Whole building life cycle assessment at the design stage: a BIM-based framework using environmental product declaration

Haibo Feng*, Mohamad Kassem, David Greenwood, Omar Doukari

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Purpose: Whole building life cycle assessment (WBLCA) is a key methodology to reduce the environmental impacts in the building sector. Research studies usually face challenges in presenting comprehensive LCA results due to the complexity of assessments at the building level. There is a dearth of methods for the systematic evaluation and optimization of the WBLCA performance at the design stage. The study aims to develop a design optimization framework based on the proposed WBLCA method to evaluate and improve the environmental performance at the building level. Design/methodology/approach: The WBLCA development method is proposed with detailed processes based on the EN 15978 standard. The environmental product declaration (EPD) methods were adopted to ensure the WBLCA is comprehensive and reliable. Building information modeling (BIM) was used to ensure the building materials and assembly contributions are accurate and provide dynamic material updates for the design optimization framework. Furthermore, the interactive BIM-LCA calculation processes were demonstrated for measuring the environmental impacts of design upgrades. The TOPSIS-based LCA results normalization was selected to conduct the comparisons of various building design upgrades. Findings: The case study conducted for a residential building showed that the material embodied impacts and the operational energy use impacts are the two critical factors that contribute 60–90% of the total environmental impacts and resource uses. Concrete and wood are the main material types accounting for an average of 65% of the material embodied impacts. The air and water heating for the house are the main energy factors, as these account for over 80% of the operational energy use. Based on the original WBLCA results, two scenarios were established to improve building performance through the design optimization framework. Originality/value: The LCA results show that the two upgraded building designs create an average of 5% reduction compared with the original building design and improving the thermal performance of the house with more insulation materials does not always reduce the WBLCA results. The proposed WBLCA method can be used to compare the building-level environmental performances with the similar building types. The proposed framework can be used to support building designers to effectively improve the WBLCA performance.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages34
JournalInternational Journal of Building Pathology and Adaptation
Early online date7 Jan 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Jan 2022


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