Lifecycle Environmental Impact Analyst

– Led Assessment of Lifecycle Environmental Impacts of Canadian Residential Sector, 2004–2025 –

Situation

In 2006, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) required a quantitative and qualitative assessment of life-cycle resource use, environmental outputs, and resulting environmental impacts of Canada’s residential sector to inform and guide their research and initiatives.

Actions

While working at Marbek, I did this entire quantitative analysis using input (coefficients) from our sub-contractors: the Athena Sustainable Materials Institute and Jane Thompson Architect. I developed a research and analysis framework, then modelled and analyzed the results for a 2004 base case and 2025 scenario.

This was the first known study of its kind to cover such a wide range of life-cycle analysis elements in the residential sector, meaning my analysis included:

1. Environmental impacts such as:

Resource use (energy, water, land, and solids)

Environmental outputs (air, water, and soil emissions)

Resulting environmental impacts (local, regional, and global impacts on air, water, soil/land, and biota), attributed to the residential sector, where possible

2. Projected impacts from 2004 to 2025 via a business-as-usual scenario

3. Life-cycle stages such as:

Operating (direct and indirect)

Non-operating (extraction, manufacturing, transportation, on-site construction, maintenance, and replacement)

4. Energy and water end-uses

5. Residential sector structures and activities such as:

Existing, renovated, and new dwellings

Dwelling types (single detached, row/town house, low-rise unit, high-rise unit)

Existing and new neighbourhood infrastructure (roads and waterworks) by type

Residential transportation by private vehicle and urban public transit

6. Neighbourhood types (inner city, inner suburbs, outer suburbs)

After my quantitative analysis, the team mapped my results to qualitative impacts on the environment, then identified considerations for future work, including options for addressing data limitations, gaps, and exclusions.

Outcomes

This ambitious study provided the client and other stakeholders with an initial life-cycle assessment from which to plan future research and analysis of the residential sector. Here’s the study report.

I delivered summary presentations to CMHC and the Canadian Home Builders Association, then authored a conference paper and presented at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) 2008 Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings. Here’s the conference paper.