Green Globes provides a practical and objective method for Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) analysis used in the environmental evaluation and selection of materials for construction of new commercial buildings. Internationally, LCA is the most accepted program largely due to a research-based approach in evaluating environmental impacts. This approach is in contrast to the use of exclusionary lists driven by arbitrary approaches to materials selection. Green Globes use of the LCA method provides additional integrity to its New Construction environmental assessment program. Each individual material type is evaluated and benchmarked against five major indicator criteria: Embodied Energy, Global Warming Potential, and Effect on Land, Air and Water.
The list of construction materials for a typical commercial building project encompasses a large number of items. This created the need for a feasible and practical program to manage and consolidate the LCA rating process for building designers. In response to this need, the Green Building Initiative commissioned the development of an LCA program that allowed design professionals to rate construction materials as assemblies rather than by individual material products. The online Eco-Calculator was designed for this purpose, developed in conjunction with the Athena Institute, the University of Minnesota, and the firm of Morrison-Hershfield. The Athena Eco-Calculator currently lists over 400 typical commercial building assemblies, including interior and exterior walls, foundations, ceilings, roofs and windows.
The Green Globes assessment approach complements the LCA process and simplifies LCA evaluations by having designers rate entire assemblies with the Athena EcoCalculator. Since a designer must choose material assemblies that support a building’s life-service, including routine wear and tear, the LCA rating protocol is a relational analysis, balancing the needs of the future building’s occupancy while optimizing the environmental benefit. Green Globes third-party assessors exercise their professional judgment when reviewing the building’s service life concurrently with the LCA rating for selected materials.
Visit the links below to learn more about the Athena EcoCalculator or Life Cycle Assessment in building design.