Potential and limitations of environmental design with LCA tools

Igra Ustvarjalnosti. 2017;(5):34-45 DOI 10.15292/IU-CG.2017.05.034-045


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Journal Title: Igra Ustvarjalnosti

ISSN: 2350-3637 (Online)

Publisher: University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Architecture and University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Civil and Geodetic Engineering

LCC Subject Category: Fine Arts: Architecture: Aesthetics of cities. City planning and beautifying | Social Sciences: Communities. Classes. Races: Urban groups. The city. Urban sociology: City planning

Country of publisher: Slovenia

Language of fulltext: Slovenian, English

Full-text formats available: PDF



Alexander Hollberg (ETH Z├╝rich, Switzerlan)

Guillaume Habert (RWTH Aachen University, Germany )

Philipp Schwan (RWTH Aachen University, Germany )

Linda Hildebrand (RWTH Aachen University, Germany )


Blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 8 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

The built environment has a very high impact on the environment. Architects can largely define the environmental impact a building will cause throughout its lifetime through its design. Especially the choice of material and the type of construction can be influenced in early design stages. To quantify the environmental impact, tools for Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) are used. This paper discusses the results of four case studies of applying four different novel LCA tools in four different academic courses at different universities. The results show that the success of applying LCA tools highly depends on the point of time during the design process and the design strategy the student pursues. If the right tool is used at the right moment and matches the design strategy, it can help to improve the architectural quality and reduce environmental impacts. In most cases however, the time of application did not fit, resulting in additional effort for applying the LCA tool. In consequence, the architectural elaboration of the design and the improvement of environmental performance compete against each other. Either the architectural quality suffers or the tool is employed late and the environmental performance cannot be improved. Even if the point in time of the tool application is right, the success depends highly on the design strategy. The number of tools is growing and there is an adequate tool available for each design stage. The design strategy has to match the tool and this requires a willingness to adapt the design approach. The issue of environmental design shifted from a lack of adequate tools to the lack of adequate design approaches. Tools can be easily taught in seminars. Environmental design strategies, however, have to be included in design studios and developed throughout the entire design phase to become part of architectural education.