MIT Research to Set Life-Cycle Assessment Standard

Words: Dan Kamys

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has released preliminary research findings that will help set a new standard in life-cycle assessment (LCA) modeling.??The studies, which are part of an ongoing research initiative at the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub, will quantify the cradle-to-grave environmental costs of paving and building materials, and will ultimately result in the most comprehensive LCA model produced to-date.

According to MIT professor and research team leader John Ochsendorf, the expanded life-cycle window – 50 years for paving materials and 75 years for building materials – combined with the level of detailed analysis conducted on the use phase of structures and pavements will distinguish MIT’s latest research. Initial reports have shown the importance of including the use phase, with MIT researchers finding that more than 90 percent of residential building life-cycle carbon emissions and up to 85 percent of highway pavement emissions occur during this period.

MIT’s ongoing work on measuring the life-cycle carbon emissions of these materials is scheduled to be completed by August 2011.??The environmental findings will then be supplemented by economic analyses in 2011 to provide the most accurate assessment of the economic and environmental impacts for buildings and pavements yet produced.
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