MBMA publishes LCA study of construction systems
The Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA) has a goal to research, document, and communicate the environmental profile of metal building systems. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is one of the tools MBMA is using to do that.
MBMA engaged the Athena Institute to conduct an industry-wide LCA on a metal building system comprised of primary structural steel (rigid frames), secondary steel framing (girts and purlins), and metal cladding for the wall and roof panel products. With the LCA data in hand, MBMA was then able to produce three industry-wide environmental product declarations (EPDs) for each of the product categories mentioned. MBMA partnered with the Athena Institute and UL Environment to produce the EPDs. The metal buildings industry can now help design teams earn EPD credits in green building programs, and it can also use the LCA data to seek further improvements in the environmental profile of its products.
MBMA also worked with the Athena Institute to create a metal building systems solution in the Impact Estimator for Buildings software, which means design teams can now evaluate metal building systems in the full life cycle of a whole building. Designers use the Impact Estimator to reduce the LCA impacts of proposed buildings and earn LCA credits in green programs.
To better understand the environmental impacts of metal building systems, MBMA engaged the engineering firm, Walter P Moore, to use the Impact Estimator on a series of case study buildings. In this detailed and thorough study, 30 different prototype building cases were assessed. Variations across the case studies included three building types, three US locations, and five construction types (wood, masonry, concrete tilt-up, conventional steel, and metal building systems). The study highlights the necessity of evaluating construction materials in the context of an appropriate functional unit (for example, a whole building) in order to make best use of the results.