Advanced Environmental Metrics Demonstrated For Green Building at Workshop

Correction to press release: Jason Grant is not affiliated with USGBC. We apologize for the error.
Sep 15, 2011 1:00 PM ET

(3BL Media / theCSRfeed) Madison, WI - September 15, 2011 - Green building professionals, environmental advocates, and certification experts joined together to preview advanced metrics for determining the environmental footprint of products and buildings at the August 31 workshop, “The LCA Roadmap to Zero Impact Buildings.” The event was conducted at the American Institute of Architects (AIA) San Francisco headquarters and hosted by a national standards committee who are working to finalize a new life cycle assessment (LCA) standard under the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) process. The standard would augment international LCA standards by providing detailed calculation methods, filling major gaps in conventional LCA practice to ensure comprehensive environmental accountability, and establishing guidelines for a variety of public claims derived from such assessments.   

Committee chairman Bill Karsell, former Chief of the Environmental Services Division of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, set the stage by providing a brief overview of the proposed standard, currently being shepherded through the ANSI process by Leonardo Academy, a non-profit ANSI-accredited standards developer based in Madison, WI.     “Our objective here was to acquaint the building community with how the proposed standard can be used to support more informed product and material choices, and minimize the environmental impacts of buildings over their lifetime,” said Mr. Karsell. “One of the most important messages to convey is that this will be a public standard, available to all interested parties to use.”   Case studies were presented to demonstrate how the metrics can be used to sort out environmental differences in building materials, such as wood managed under two different forest management systems, and to address impact categories previously left out or misreported in LCA studies and to track the environmental profile of buildings at each stage of design and construction, operations and maintenance, occupant procurement and use, and end-of-life.   Featured presenters and panelists included Dan Burgoyne, Sustainability Manager for the California Department of General Services (DGS); Michael Jani, Chief Forester and President of Humboldt Redwood Company; Keith Killpack, Life Cycle Practitioner, and Tobias Schultz, Life Cycle Associate, both of Scientific Certification Systems; Gary Dodge, Director of Science and Certification, Forest Stewardship Council; Dave Bubser, U.S. Region Manager, Rainforest Alliance; Jason Grant, Forest Certification Committee Member, Sierra Club; Heather Gadonniex, EPD Program Manager, ULe; Steve Baer, Chair of the USGBC Materials & Resources Technical Advisory Group; and Brendan Owens, Vice President, LEED Technical Development, USGBC.   “The more impacts we can cover and the more we can quantify, the better equipped everyone will be to understand the true impacts of our buildings,” said Mr. Burgoyne of California DGS. Mr. Jani echoed that point, describing the importance of enabling building specifiers to distinguish between wood sources based on their impacts. “Not all forests are managed alike. There are impacts that need to be looked at to differentiate one forest product from another,” he said.   The workshop sparked lively and highly productive discussions about how the new metrics should be incorporated into LEED 2012.   “The takeaway is that it is critical to have life cycle impact assessment approaches that are comprehensive enough to examine the full range of impacts,” said Mr. Grant of the Sierra Club. “I hope that the discussion started here today will continue and that the result will be the adoption of stronger LCA models and metrics in LEED 2012.”   The workshop was one of several gatherings and webinars being facilitated by the committee as it fulfills its commitment under the ANSI process to full transparency, stakeholder outreach and consensus building.   Future workshops, webinars and presentations are planned, including a presentation on Environmental Building Declarations at the upcoming Greenbuild conference in Toronto.   LA16782