Studio News

Carbon Blog Series #18


The various stages of a typical life cycle as defined in LCA are:
• A: the production and construction stages,
• B: the use stage,
• C: the end-of-life stage, and
• D: externalized impacts beyond the system boundary

LCA tracks emissions, which are substances released into the air, water, or soil.

Carbon as a term if often associated with climate change, however often what this refers to is the Global Warming Potential (GWP). Futhermore, the following list of terms are often interchangeably used instead of carbon.

• Carbon footprint
• Carbon dioxide (CO2)
• Carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e or CO2eq)
• Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
• Fossil fuel emissions
• Climate change (CC) potential

Embodied and operating carbon

LCA can assess many environmental impacts, but GWP is often the focus of LCA studies. Embodied carbon commonly refers to the GWP attributed to materials and energy used in the construction and maintenance of buildings. Operating carbon refers to the GWP attributed to operation and use of the building.

LCA often calculate using:

Inventory x Impacts = Total environmental impact

In design practice, LCA can be used as a comparative model aimed at making incremental improvements and evaluating design options.

To continue reading about the implementation of life cycle assessment of buildings, access the document here: https://carbonleadershipforum.org/lca-practice-guide/