Green building certification

31Oct13

New Tools for Whole Building Life Cycle Assessment

Most designers prioritize implementing sustainability strategies that save energy during a building’s use phase, and with good reason.  For conventional, code-compliant buildings, energy consumption during occupancy represents the lion’s share of life cycle impacts. But as energy codes and industry adeptness drive better operational efficiency, there emerges a corresponding need to better manage environmental impacts associated with—or “embodied in”— the extraction, manufacture, transportation, assembly, and end-of-life disposal of building materials.

Through a partnership with Autodesk, KieranTimberlake tackled this need head on by studying extensively how a virtual 3D model could help rapidly quantify the embodied environmental impacts of their materials-related decisions. KieranTimberlake is one of the few architectural firms in the U.S. certified by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) for the research, management, and delivery of architectural services. They created an early prototype that, when integrated with Autodesk Revit™, supported a set of retrospective embodied energy and carbon footprint studies for already built projects like the Loblolly House and Cellophane House™.  This new workflow provided surprising insights into materials decisions that countered intuition and traditional best practice principles.

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