UBC Undergraduate Research

Incorporating life cycle assessment at the University of British Columbia Hellens, Kris; Schurmann, Kyle; Klassen, Dave


Life-cycle assessment (LCA) offers UBC the ability to further its sustainability and environmental goals in a quantifiable and transparent way. With a new version of LEED® on the horizon now is an ideal time to re-evaluate how sustainability is incorporated into the programs and guidelines affecting new developments on the Vancouver campus. Current language around LCA’s use at UBC is infrequent and misleading, referring instead to life-cycle costing. This apparent lack of consideration is troublesome, as it neglects a major area of sustainability research and progression. UBC has several plans, visions, and policies that extol its goals of a sustainable campus, and LCA is well aligned to be included as a tool for reaching its targets. Transparent benchmarks created in this study allow for the tracking of sustainability metrics through direct comparisons. This is important in understanding what the actual environmental impacts of developments on campus are, allowing progress to be tracked openly. New projects can be compared to the benchmark to allow The University a way of defining what sustainable means, creating a more proactive way of achieving environmental goals. Perhaps the greatest opportunity for UBC is in the area of global leadership. With its position UBC has the power to be a prominent player in the North American environmental arena, and by promoting the use of LCA in new developments it is able to guide other universities and private partners towards a more sustainable future, not just a less unsustainable one. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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