One of the key tools in Green building is the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA.) LCA is a technique to assess the environmental impacts associated with each product, process, or service, by:
- Compiling an inventory of relevant energy and material inputs to a project;
- Assessing the aging process associated with the input;
- Evaluating the potential environmental impacts associated with identified inputs through their lifespan;
- Interpreting the results to help make an informed decision.
- Quantitative accounting of environmental impacts;
- Exposes trade‐offs not found through single attributes;
- Supports holistic design.
This process is often referred to as cradle to grave or cradle to cradle. The idea is to look at a products full impact though its life. Cradle to grave is an assessment until a material is disposed of. Cradle to cradle is and assessment of a material until it is reborn thorough reuse or recycling.
This way of looking at something does not only apply to things like kitchen sinks, counter tops and floor covering. It can apply to all aspects of how a building is used. For example one important evaluation is how people will age in place in a home. This can be a more literal look at a cradle to grave assessment. It is well worth considering the lifecycle of people in a home. This can impact sustainability, finances and quality of life. Creating a situation in which people can live independently, or with assistance, in their residence helps reduce cost, increase independence. There are many factors such as size of the home, number of steps and stories and of course more obvious things like grab bars.
Whether we are building a custom home or remodeling an existing home, putting ourselves in the frame of mind to think through the various life cycles involved in a house can help us create a home the works well for the environment and the people living in the home.