Detailed LCA resource available European focus, let’s identify what is most applicable to NZ

18 September 2023 by Jason Quinn

The Buildings and Communities Programme (EBC*) has just published a huge resource of LCA work focused on buildings in Europe. 

The focus of the research are heavyweight buildings powered by a grid that is less clean than New Zealand’s. I’m not sure how New Zealand’s metrics for embodied carbon emissions across the different stock levels will be set. It becomes quite complicated when the impacts of building lifespan, durability and multiple tenants are considered against a simple kgCO2/sqm metric.

Note the analysis is based on a 60-year building lifespan, not the 50 years used in New Zealand analysis by MBIE

I’ve only been able to skim this and I’d appreciate anyone who’s given it a deeper read pointing out the bits that are specifically applicable to our practice here in Aotearoa.

This IEA EBC Annex 72 work broadens the focus of prior work to include operational impacts alongside primary energy demand and emissions. It aimed to standardise methods for assessing these impacts, establish baselines, propose calculation rules and develop environmental benchmarks for diverse building types. The project also aimed to offer region-specific design guidelines, utilising tools like BIM, and to gather real-world case studies to support practical evaluation. It fostered knowledge exchange among partner countries and encouraged LCA application in less-experienced regions.

There are multiple documents, including summaries, available here:

Assessing Life Cycle Related Environmental Impacts Caused by Buildings

*The EBC is a programme of the International Energy Agency. Established in 1977 (following the oil shocks), it carries out research and development activities toward near-zero energy and carbon emissions in the built environment. New Zealand is one of 25 member countries.

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