Application of LCA results in the early design phase of environmental-friendly buildings

Toktam Bashirzadeh Tabizi, Glen Hill, Mathew Aitchison

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review


Buildings are responsible for a significant impact on the environment during their life cycle. For the design of an “environmental-friendly” building, the environmental impacts of aspects including the manufacturing of construction materials, operation and maintenance, demolition and disposal, and related transportation should be analysed from “cradle to grave”. A variety of models have been developed to calculate the life cycle environmental impacts of buildings. However, attempts to find common criteria or principles for design decision making from the results of previous studies is problematic because different studies determine life cycle assessment (LCA) results using a varying series of assumptions and a variety of different parameters. Because of their complexity, LCA quantification methods are not generally employed by building designers at the early design stages when they may be of most benefit. The aim of this study is to elaborate the difficulty of generalising results from previous LCA studies and therefore the difficulty of developing elementary heuristic principles to assist designers, by highlighting the complexity of LCA tool and providing examples of life cycle energy assessment in residential buildings. The results highlight the main problems designers would encounter trying to use the LCA method at the early design stages, and the need to develop heuristic guidelines for designers to allow them to understand the most effective design variables on the building life cycle performance.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of 33rd PLEA International Conference
Subtitle of host publicationDesign to Thrive
EditorsLuisa Brotas, Sue Roaf, Fergus Nicol
Place of PublicationEdinburgh, UK
PublisherNCEUB 2017 - Network for Comfort and Energy Use in Buildings
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9780992895754
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes
EventPassive and Low Energy Architecture (PLEA) Annual International Conference 2017 - Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 2 Jul 20175 Jul 2017
Conference number: 33rd

Publication series

NameProceedings of 33rd PLEA International Conference: Design to Thrive, PLEA 2017


ConferencePassive and Low Energy Architecture (PLEA) Annual International Conference 2017
Abbreviated titlePLEA 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • Early stage design
  • Environmental impact
  • LCA
  • Material selection
  • Rules of thumb

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