UBC Undergraduate Research

Life cycle assessment of the Forest Science Center Eddy, Ian


This study used Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to assess the environmental performance of the University of British Columbia’s Forest Science Centre. The LCA was part of a larger continuing project that seeks to quantify the environmental performance of the buildings at UBC. A previous model of the FSC was reviewed, improved, and reclassified to fit the Canadian Institute of Quantity Surveyors’ classification format in order to promote integration of LCA into the existing template used during building design for cost management. Architectural and structural drawings of the building were coupled with the software programs Athena Impact Estimator for Buildings and Onscreen Takeoff to model the potential impacts created through the production and construction of the building. The material and energy flows from these systems were characterized with the TRACI impact assessment methodology to produce a comprehensive evaluation of the potential environmental impacts. The greatest environmental impacts were discerned to occur from the suspended concrete slabs that form the upper floors of the building. The results of all studies were used to create a benchmark against which buildings could be evaluated. The FSC was found to have a lower impact than the benchmark in 6 of the 7 impact categories, though the range varied considerably. Recommendations are proposed to further operationalize LCA at UBC. They include an expansion of the system boundary to cover the operation and maintenance of buildings, and the normalization of impact categories to reflect the sustainable development policies pursued by UBC. Aspects of the building requiring further analysis are also identified so that the study may be improved by future students. 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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