Life Cycle Assessment

Sustainability with both eyes open

Written by: Jessica Wright

Sustainability returns value to organizations of all types. A sustainability assessment can reduce costs and minimize waste. It also bring market advantage. A recent survey found that 88% of respondents preferred brands that helped them, as consumers, to be more environmentally friendly. Greater sustainability can bring the benefits of  improved environmental management to manufacturers as well as other types of businesses and entire communities.

Stages of a Full Life Cycle

The Product Perspective

The concerns that manufacturers have about their brand and product sustainability are not new. Twenty years ago, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) documented a strategy to include environmental costs in a product market price. That pricing strategy, Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), considers the full life cycle. A full life cycle begins with product design, continues through manufacturing, distribution, use, and end of life.

Several factors impact the environmental sustainability of businesses and the products or services they provide. Some factors will impact multiple life cycle stages. These examples are relevant to a business organization:

  • What features of the organization’s facilities ensure healthy workplaces?
  • How much energy is used in production and other operations? What types of energy are used?
  • Which materials does the organization use, and where they are sourced?
  • What waste products occur?
  • How much potable and reclaimed water is used inside and outside the organization’s buildings?

Sustainable Operations

Business operations of all types leave carbon footprints. Even service organizations that never manufacture have environmental impact. That makes sustainability relevant to every office of every building. Day-to-day commercial activity leaves deeper carbon footprints and more wasted resources when concerns like these are overlooked:

  • How much energy is being used, and what are its sources?
  • What policies and equipment are in place to avoid wasted water?
  • How are maintenance costs monitored and controlled?
  • What are the organization’s policies for Solid Waste Management (SWM)?

Considering the Community

Communities share some environmental impact factors with businesses, but have additional, non-commercial reasons to seek sustainability. Community leaders may focus on initiatives that boost economic, physical, and social progress. Those initiatives also avoid environmental and public health risks that could undermine community development. As civic leaders weigh initiatives, environmental impact factors like these may apply:

  • How would converting partially or fully to renewable energy sources impact homes, businesses, and public utility infrastructure?
  • What would result if street and lighting improvements made cycling and walking better alternatives to petroleum-powered commuting?
  • As public transportation is upgraded and expanded, which types of fuel should those vehicles use?
Life Cycle Assessment Phases
ISO 14040: Environmental Management – Life Cycle Assessment

The relevant environmental impact factors and life cycle stages will vary from product to product and service to service. To control complexity and cost, goals must be set as the scope is well-defined. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) addresses all of that in the first of four interrelated phases.

ISO 14040 provides a framework to measure the total environmental impacts of products, operations, and public works. A full LCA assesses environmental impacts through all stages of the supply chain. The cycle begins with extraction of raw materials and through manufacturing through the applicable SWM strategies.

SOURCES:

Medium.com — A Guide to Life Cycle Thinking
EPA.gov — US EPA Life Cycle Assessment: Principles and Practice (.PDF)
Forbes.com — Why Corporate Strategies Should Be Focused On Sustainability

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AWARE of CDC and NIH guidelines

The Baseline Property Condition Assessments described in ASTM E2018-15 do not specify consideration of infectious disease transmission concerns. In a pandemic and post-pandemic environment, that inspection and documentation is essential.

Buildings open to the public must comply with local regulations. For best results and greatest public acceptance, any planning for building repairs and maintenance should not overlook current CDC and NIH guidelines.

Optionally, ecoPreserve's can assist with a comprehensive GBAC STAR™ Accreditation which extends beyond the building to include the goals, actions, equipment, and supplies needed to implement best practices for outbreak prevention, response, and recovery.

Tools tailored to location and need

Disaster resilience requires a select toolset, identified, adapted, or created as needed based on planning calls and inclusive workshop participation.

Business and government organizations today are confronted by threat categories that range from drought to flood, from fire to hurricane, and extend globally to pandemics and sea level rise. Threat categories are broad and diverse, but ecoPreserve and collaborating organizations design resiliency tools for specific local context.

Local needs are identified and verified. Building from that essential understanding, tools are designed, tested in pilot programs, refined, then implemented through action plans.

Today's challenges/
tomorrow's potential

ecoPreserve collaborates with major community and private organizations in optimizing the resiliency and resource efficiency of their workplaces, venues, and public spaces.

In response to ever-increasing environmental, sociopolitical, and public health challenges, we advocate for and participate in assessment and planning actions that directly address disaster preparations, recovery activities, infrastructure improvements, and smart building/city design.

Online and in-person workshops

ecoPreserve designs and leads workshops in varied formats, to achieve varied goals.

Often an event is held for skill and knowledge development, but some needs of an organization or community are better resolved through collaboration to identify requirements and to design solutions. A range of Disaster Resilience workshops are available for solutions planning and development, as well as for training and communication.

Disaster Planning and Recovery Workshops

  • Identify technical and business process gaps
  • Define stakeholders, recovery teams, and processes/functionalities necessary for operation
  • Highlight missed expectations from a data loss and recovery time perspective
  • Address compliance with regulatory agencies and industry standards
Here's how to request further information. Thank you for reaching out!

Here's how to request further information. Thank you for reaching out!

Facility Condition Report

The report is prepared in accordance with the recommendations of ASTM E2018-15, Standard Guide for Property Condition Assessments. This is a partial list of contents:

  • PHYSICAL CONDITION
    • General condition of the building, grounds, and appurtenances
    • Physical deficiencies, their significance, and suggested remedies
    • Photographs
    • Safety issues observed
  • INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPREAD POTENTIAL
  • OPPORTUNITIES
    • Potential operating efficiencies
    • Electricity and water use reductions
    • High-efficiency interior and exterior lighting
  • ORDER OF MAGNITUDE RENOVATION BUDGET
    • Recommended interior finishes
    • Construction costs

Risk Mitigation Improvements

  • IAQ
    • Airflow
    • Temperature and humidity
    • Vertical transportation (escalators and elevators)
  • HVAC EQUIPMENT
    • Settings
    • Conditions
    • Capability
    • Filtration
  • FLOORPLAN
    • Traffic patterns
  • FURNISHINGS
    • Placement for social distancing
    • Clear barriers where social distancing is not possible

Interior Elements

  • Foundation
  • Building frame and roof
  • Structural elements
    • Floors, walls, ceilings
    • Access and egress
    • Vertical transportation (escalators and elevators)
  • HVAC equipment and ductwork
  • Utilities
    • Electrical
    • Plumbing
  • Safety and fire protection

Grounds and Appurtenances

  • Façades or curtainwall
  • Topography
  • Storm water drainage
  • Paving, curbing, and parking
  • Flatwork
  • Landscaping
  • Recreational facilities
Here's how to request further information. Thank you for reaching out!

AWARE of CDC and NIH guidelines

The Baseline Property Condition Assessments described in ASTM E2018-15 do not specify consideration of infectious disease transmission concerns. In a pandemic and post-pandemic environment, that inspection and documentation is essential.

Buildings open to the public must comply with local regulations. For best results and greatest public acceptance, any planning for building repairs and maintenance should not overlook current CDC and NIH guidelines.

Optionally, ecoPreserve's can assist with a comprehensive GBAC STAR™ Accreditation which extends beyond the building to include the goals, actions, equipment, and supplies needed to implement best practices for outbreak prevention, response, and recovery.

An OPTIMIZED Assessment

Certified Sustainability Consultants on a facility assessment team can discover ways to lower energy costs. Their understanding of HVAC equipment suitability and condition along with the specifics of LED lighting retrofits can provide offsets for needed investments in upgrades and replacements.

Knowledge of water systems can bring further savings while averting water waste. It can all be part of an assessment which might otherwise overlook water fixtures and irrigation schedules.

How should a facility be ASSESSED?

A thorough facility assessment finds the issues - on the surface or below - which have a potential negative impact on the building. That brings the facility to meet building codes. Beyond that, the assessment proactively addresses the deficiencies not covered by code.

The occupants of a building benefit as the assessment reveals conditions having a potential impact on their health or safety. The assessment must not overlook those conditions, nor fail to consider the frequency and duration of occupant visits.