UBC Undergraduate Research

Life cycle assessment of academic buildings at UBC Elder, Michael; Panahi, Negar; Salehi, Ali


This report is the final project in CIVL 498C, a course that introduces students to the practice of Life Cycle Assessment. It is part of a continuing study of buildings on campus, with the purpose of improving UBC’s environmental footprint. This study was based on a life cycle assessment of various buildings on campus done by students in the same course last year. Their results were updated and used as a benchmark for this project. The scope of this project is to gain more information about UBC’s buildings, so that strategic decisions about new projects can be made in the future. The results can also be used as an educational tool for people to learn more about the environmental impacts of buildings on campus. Some of the most noteworthy findings in the life cycle assessment are: - Concrete constitutes about 81% of all construction materials in terms of mass. - The ‘Upper Floor Construction’ of all the buildings is the largest building element assessed, with a total of 38% of all the construction materials. - ‘Roof Construction’ was found to have the most significant environmental impact. - The ‘Product Stage’ (manufacturing, transportation, material extraction) is the life cycle stage with the biggest impact Comparisons were made between buildings in terms of “impact per square meter”. A number of environmental impacts were considered, such as global warming potential, ozone depletion potential, non-renewable energy use, and fossil fuel consumption. A cost analysis was also made, which can help designers make decisions between choosing construction materials. Some strategies to institutionalize life cycle assessment at UBC were also outlined. There are a number of ways to educate people about the concept, such as events, guest lectures, a newsletter, or through social media. Designers of buildings on campus can use modelling tools and a life cycle inventory database to make the process easier. With strong communication and education, life cycle assessment can be institutionalized into UBC policy to move towards a green future. 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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