Perspectives on greener product development and manufacturing from Sustainable Minds, our partners, customers and contributors.

Autodesk Webcast Replay: Lifecycle Assessment and BIM for Sustainability

By Sustainable Minds on October 20, 2010

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Robert E. Middlebrooks AIA, Industry Strategy and Relations Manager from Autodesk's AEC Solutions, gave a compelling talk on BIM & LCA. More than 1200 people attended! He demonstrates a great project he built in Sustainable Minds showing how he evaluated the impacts from a flooring system.

AEC professionals are well aware that designing sustainably is key to achieving environmental goals. Architects, engineers, construction professionals and building owners must focus on the best decisions during conception, design, construction and operations in order to support sustainability objectives. Since new buildings and renovation projects will serve their occupants for decades, the overall cost in resources and the environmental impact of operations and maintenance must outweigh the initial costs of construction.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a methodology that considers the resource impacts of a product or service from inception to end. In a typical building project, the complexity of the supply chain and the fragmented nature of the process pose challenges to implementing a methodology like LCA. Yet, there is mounting research activity and industry interest that supports the benefits of an LCA process. BIM technology supports LCA by helping to answer complex questions about project information and buildings operations processes.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has created a formal collection of standards for evaluating environmental impacts. These standards offer a framework for assessing product environmental impact from materials extraction and processing, through product use, de-commissioning or discarding.

There are also emerging companies, such as Sustainable Minds, which deliver web-based software and services which support Life Cycle Assessment in design and help companies consider the implications of early stage LCA. As connections evolve between technology and assessment approaches like LCA, and as new organizations emerge to support and evangelize LCA, customers will have the tools to make the best decisions about design and construction, leading to more efficient building processes & performance, and supporting goals for sustainability.