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Life Cycle Assessment in Green Star

Materials Life Cycle Impacts

Context: The use of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is gaining greater recognition in sustainability assessment. Currently, products and materials are often compared like-for-like, not holistically and as assembled and used in construction works.

Credit Aim: The use of LCA in Green Star aims to encourage project teams to perform whole-of-project, whole-of-life assessments, and to demonstrate that their project performs better in most impact categories with minimal negative tradeoffs. The LCA credit also aims to increase demand and availability of life cycle data and to build the capacity of the industry to perform life cycle comparisons of projects.

Environmental Product Declarations

Context: To make an assessment of which material is more appropriate from an environmental perspective, designers, architects and engineers require detailed information on the environmental impacts of each. Currently, there is a limited amount of information available, which limits professionals’ capacity to perform impact assessments across the project’s lifecycle.

Aim: The use of Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) in Green Star aims to increase the supply of products and materials with publically available EPDs that have been completed in accordance with recognised international standards. It does so by incentivising the use of such products and materials in Green Star rated buildings and fitouts.

Development Process

From November 2012 to April 2014, the GBCA released a series of Discussion Papers which sought feedback from Green Star stakeholders on how LCA can be used in the Green Star Materials category. The feedback received informed the development of two LCA-based draft credits (Innovation Challenges) which was initially made available for projects to use:

In October 2014, the GBCA released the Green Star – Design & As Built v1 rating tool which included final versions of the LCA-based initiatives, developed from feedback received from the draft credits. An LCA credit is embedded as a core credit in the rating tool, and the use of EPDs are rewarded under the ‘Sustainable Products’ credit. The same approach has been taken for the Green Star – Interiors v1 rating tool, except adapted for fitout projects.

In August 2015, the GBCA released the Green Star – Communities v1 rating tool which also included an LCA credit as a core credit in the rating tool. The credit has been adapted for a whole-of-site LCA, relevant to the type of projects being rated.

For any Legacy rating tool project wanting to target an LCA-based initiative, please see the 'Retired Innovation Challenges' section in the Innovation Challenges Handbook.

Next Steps

The LCA and EPD initiatives in Green Star will evolve over time, based on data collated from Green Star projects. The evolution of these initiatives will take place in minor rating tool updates, with a view that significant changes will take place in partnership with industry, scheduled for three years after a rating tool is released.

As always, the GBCA encourages written feedback from industry professionals in order to be a part of the Green Star development process. Please get in touch with us using the contact details below with your feedback.

The LCA and EPD initiatives in Green Star will be a catalyst for greater LCA use and the generation of life cycle data, both of which will improve the sustainability outcomes in the built environment.