Integrating LCA Tools in LEED: First Steps

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In our paper presented at the Austin 2002 conference, “Integrating LCA Tools in Green Building Rating Systems”, we focused on the disconnect between the complexity of the building/environment relationship and the specifics of rating system credits and requirements. We argued that achieving the ultimate objective means working to minimize flows from and to nature: the use of natural resources of all kinds, and emissions to air, land and water throughout a building’s complete life cycle. Through several examples, we showed how certain credit/requirement combinations do not necessarily lead to improved environmental performance in the sense of this objective function. They are based on assumptions that may or may not prove correct in certain situations. We then discussed how life cycle assessment (LCA), while not a panacea, has the ability to move us in the right direction. In the Austin presentation, Wayne Trusty suggested an ultimate vision of how credits might be structured with LCA as a central component. However, he fully acknowledged and emphasized the constraints and changes necessary for this to occur.

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