Waugh Thistleton Architects

Black & White LCA 1

As part of our design methodology for The Black and White Building, we have produced a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to accurately quantify the whole life carbon outputs of our building.

An LCA is an analysis of the environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a building's life, from the raw materials and energy used in the production, construction, and operation of a building, to its eventual end-of-life disposal.  Using methods outlined in the European standard, LCA calculations are split into a series of stages that collectively amount to what is known as ‘whole life carbon’. These stages of carbon analysis are divided into (a) the material procurement and construction of a project, (b) its in-use and operational carbon outputs, (c) its end of life and (d) beyond life impacts. 

Life cycle assessments are reported to the framework set by the European Union, which provides a standardized approach for assessing the environmental performance of buildings and are applicable to all building types; from single-family homes to large commercial buildings and can be used to assess both new and existing structures. The subdivision of carbon analysis into different areas of production and operation effectively highlights specific areas of inefficiency for improvement, which used during the building process can help inform more environmentally and carbon-conscious design choices informed by reliable data.  

We believe that this LCA sets an important precedent for architects and the construction industry at large to take stock of the environmental impacts of their building in a measurable and accountable way, which we see as a necessary component of the UK’s transition into a green construction industry. 

As ever, our aim is to share our knowledge as widely as possible and provide resources to accelerate the global transition to a low-carbon construction industry. It is for this reason that we are releasing the detailed Black and White LCA for free, to solicit the critique of our peers and ultimately improve our practice.  Our LCA should function as a prototype analysis for whole life carbon assessment, that we hope will inspire change and accountability from industry stakeholders and policy makers alike. The lessons learned from this LCA will inform a generic and open source guide to accurately quantify the carbon impacts of timber to be released later this year.