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Integrating Indoor Air Quality Considerations Into Materials Life Cycle Assessment

Buildings design professionals and their clients are increasingly interested in the environmental performance of their designs. So-called "life cycle assessments" (LCAs) have been done on some building materials. Most LCA practitioners have either ignored indoor air quality (IAQ) or stated that integration of IAQ into LCA practice is either impractical or infeasible. A "building ecology" approach to design, construction, and operation of buildings demands inclusion of IAQ in LCAs of building materials and products.

Presented as a Plenary Lecture at Indoor Air '99, The Eighth International Conference on Indoor Air Quality and Climate, Edinburgh, Scotland, August 8-13.

Three methods for the integration of IAQ into LCA are described and compared. These methods include three different ways to assess chemical emissions from building materials and the impacts of these emissions on IAQ. The results show that data and health-based criteria are needed to advance the practice. Evaluation of IAQ in LCAs is no more complex than many tasks already routinely performed by LCA practitioners.


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