Each month, Stainless Solutions from IMOA covers a different stainless steel issue with tips on design and specification, and links to technical resources. This month’s issue will explore Whole Building Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) in voluntary rating systems and green codes.
The World Trade Center site in New York City is an excellent example of material durability concerns influencing decision-making. The One, Three and Seven World Trade Center buildings, the Goldman Sachs Headquarters, and the National September 11 Museum entrance all have Type 316L exteriors as will other projects around the site.
LCI data assesses the environmental impact of the production of each material. In LCA, the LCI data for each material is multiplied by the expected number of replacements over the service life of the project. There are LCI databases in Europe, Australia, the United States and elsewhere. There are finally enough materials in them, including all of the commonly used metals, for Whole Building LCA to be possible.
Government funded projects around the world increasingly have minimum design life requirements. Highly corrosion resistant 2205 duplex stainless steel sunscreens were used for the Stockholm Convention Center because of its coastal location.
The third party certified LCI data used must be either from the individual supplier whose product is used or average data from the industry association in the specific country/region in which the material was produced because of energy source and environmental regulation differences. This is critical for a valid LCA analysis. Where databases have not yet been developed, Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) from the producer or industry association can often provide the necessary information. Stainless steel is in these databases and many producers have EPDs.
“Proving its Long-term Mettle: Longevity, whole-building LCAs, and stainless steel,The Construction Specifier”, provides more information on available resources, examples of stainless steel use in sustainable design and documentation of the material’s durability.
As resources become more developed, Whole Building LCA will become a regular part of sustainable design but, at this point, it is still optional in The International Green Construction Code (IgCC) and the most recent versions of the three widely used voluntary rating systems – US Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Green Star, and Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM).
Determining Material Replacement Frequency
Material service life prediction is necessary for LCA. This may seem challenging, but site assessment tools and comparative long-term corrosion testing data for metals are available. Click here for resources to assist with that process, and to read the full newsletter.