Life cycle in the built environment
In terms of the built environment, ‘life cycle’ refers to a product, building or service over the course of its whole life. For example, relation to a building, this would include its design, construction, operation, and disposal. Considering the life full cycle of a building can help ensure that all aspects are properly considered, rather than just the cost of construction.
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a method for evaluating the environmental load of processes and products during their life cycle. An LCA attempts to identify the environmental effects during all stages of its life and produces a figure (or several figures) that represent the total environmental load. In a full LCA, the energy and materials used, along with waste and pollutants produced as a consequence of a product or activity are quantified.
The term ‘cradle-to-grave’ is an approach for defining the boundaries of an embodied energy assessment which involves measuring or estimating the total energy consumed through the entire life cycle of a building or product.
In terms of life cycle costs, whole-life costs consider all those that are associated with the life of a building, from inception to construction, occupation and operation and disposal.
NB Government Functional Standard, GovS 002: Project delivery; portfolio, programme and project management, Version: 2.0, published on 15 July 2021 by HM Government, states: ‘The life cycle provides a phased structure for governing the work and underpinning the delivery plan, from start to finish. Life cycles can be applied to a portfolio, service, product, system, programme or project.’
 Related articles on Designing Buildings
- Challenging the current approach to end of life of buildings using a life cycle assessment (LCA) approach.
- Circular economy.
- Design economics.
- Design for Deconstruction.
- Design life.
- ECA welcomes the Value Toolkit for the construction industry.
- End of life potential.
- How much carbon are your buildings responsible for?
- Integrated Material Profile and Costing Tool.
- Life cycle assessment.
- Life cycle inventory.
- Life-cycle plan.
- The Value Toolkit.
- Utilising life cycle costing and life cycle assessment.
- Whole life costs.
- Whole life solution
- Why we need to grasp the whole life cycle.
- Wood, embodied carbon and operational carbon.
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The Circular Economy wiki is supported by the Circular Construction in Regenerative Cities (CIRCuIT) project, which is funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. CIRCuIT is a collaborative project involving 31 ambitious partners across the entire built environment chain in Copenhagen, Hamburg, Helsinki Region and Greater London. Through a series of demonstrations, case studies, events and dissemination activities, the project will showcase how circular construction practices can be scaled and replicated across Europe to enable sustainable building in cities and the transition to a circular economy on a wider scale.