Selecting building technology resources

Selecting building technology resources

Please note that the energy and water consumption are reported separately and the consumption also includes any impacts of technical choices. So this article is purely about modeling the material related impacts.

Availability of building technology / building services resources.

There are very few Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) available to assess the manufacturing and material related impacts for building technology, compared to the availability of construction material EPDs. Therefore the inclusion of building technology to your LCA study will normally require some estimations. Here are a few tips on how to choose the right environmental profiles to represent the impacts of building technology in your LCA calculations.

How to find the product you are looking for.

If you know the specific technology product which will be used for your project, you can first check if the product is available in our database. If not, you can search if there is available EPD for this product (can be also asked directly from the manufacturer) and forward it to support(at), so we can include it to the database. However, it is common that such technologies do not have an EPD available. In such case you have 3 main options to proceed:

Option 1: Using similar resources and scaling 

You might be able to find the same type of system but with different capacity – then simply scale the system to fit your needs (e.g. you need a unit with 75kW capacity but there is 150kW available, then just include 0.5 units). Or can include a similar system from a different manufacturer and with slightly different technical parameters.

Alternatively, you can choose a different system that has still relatively similar material composition and weight. It requires a good understanding of both systems, but when choosing the right alternative your LCA results will be still very precise – most important factor contributing to technical system environmental impacts is its material composition.

Make sure to include also necessary piping and cabling (or similar), commonly the systems just include the unit itself. You can find out from the resource description if anything additional is included.

Option 2: Modelling building technology with average resources based on building area

Include your building technologies based on building floor area. This option is suggested if the project is at a very early stage and not much info is yet available. For such purpose, we have available generic resources which include the system and additionally piping, cabling (etc) per m2 floor area (approximately 75% of GIFA) and provide enough accuracy to have good quality LCA results. 

Our average resources are modeled for apartment buildings, therefore, the impacts of the building technologies for other type of buildings might exceed the average impacts. To make sure you're not overestimating the impacts, check the service life of the technology to be sure if it fits for your purposes. Ensuring that you use suitable service life will avoid having too short replacement cycle, which cause increased impacts in the B4 stage. 

Resources available for technologies per m2 of floor area (you can copy the name to search):
  • Drainage system
  • Electricity cabling
  • Heating system
  • Pipesystem
  • Solar heat exchanger system
  • Sprinkler system
  • Ventilation system
Some such resources also have available multiple selections for different piping materials. If you have the info available, choose the right alternative.

Option 3: Estimate and include your technology material masses

This option is especially suitable for piping, cabling etc.

Use this option if the building technology that is used in your project is not available in our database and there are also no suitable alternatives and generic resources that at least roughly would represent the environmental impacts of the actual system.

You can model your system environmental profile based on its material composition. To do so, you need to find out the system weight and materials which contribute the most to the system weight. For most technology, it is typically some sort of metal or plastic. This kind of technology inclusion will give you a very rough estimation, but at least the system gets included to your LCA calculations. The results will still indicate how much the building technology will proportionally contribute to the building overall environmental impacts.
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