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Pipeline projects: five greenlit schemes to watch

Looking ahead to future concepts across the commercial sector, we spotlight five upcoming architecture and design projects.

12/07/2024 4 min read

Interviews, opinions and profiles from industry experts

Specialist Group: practicing local and global sustainability

With Group Managing Director Ciaran O'Hagan, we discuss how manufacturers can (and should) make a positive impact at both a local and global scale.

11/07/2024 2 min read

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How to achieve environmental sustainability using Life Cycle Assessment

As part of our designer focus, Pat Hermon, Technical Lead on Sustainable Products at BRE, explains how businesses can become more responsible when it comes to manufacturing.


2 min read

Sustainable Manufacturing at Gresham Factory


Thanks in part to Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough, the past 12 months have seen society become increasingly concerned about climate change. The general public have a raised awareness of sustainability and climate issues, producing a significant impact for construction and interiors professionals. We are seeing designers sign up to campaigns such as ‘Architects Declare’ and policy makers in the UK committing to net-zero targets. But how do we distinguish quantifiable actions from greenwash and ensure we are making the best decisions to address our impacts on climate change? 

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) provides a methodology for quantifying the environmental impacts of virtually anything be it a plasterboard, a piece of furniture, a service offering or an entire building. LCA in construction is supported by international standards including EN15804 (for products) and EN15978 (for buildings). The standards report against a host of LCA ‘indicators’ – the most critical one today being Global Warming Potential which is quantified in terms of kilograms of CO2 equivalent. The standards require a modular approach for the accounting of impacts where they occur and ensure that the application of LCA is consistent.

Recently, the standards have been updated to go beyond the impacts of material manufacture (cradle to gate) and towards full life cycle (cradle to cradle). This is an important development for the industry, facilitating the dialogue between the manufacturing and the waste/demolition companies. The idea is to promote circular economy principles at the product level, thereby reducing waste sent to landfill.

How do we distinguish quantifiable actions from greenwash and ensure we are making the best decisions to address our impacts on climate change? 

Although the intricacies of environmental impact reporting can be complex, product level tools such as BRE LINA enable manufacturers to self-assess LCAs using a simplified series of basic inputs. Once quantified, the key contributors to the LCA can be identified and strategies developed to improve environmental performance, recyclability, efficiency and even cost. The final result, once independently verified by a recognised organisation such as BRE Global, can be published in an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) which is then made publicly available through platforms such as Greenbooklive and Ecoplatform.

Making comparisons at the product level can be complex. For example, 1m2 of ceramic floor tiles may have a higher manufacturing impact than 1m2 of linoleum but could have a much lower impact during its ‘use’ phase due to its durability (meaning fewer replacements over the life cycle). Then again using linoleum might lead to more waste but have a higher transport impact.   

Knowing the impact of a given product is important, but only when the results for individual products are incorporated within a project level LCA do we truly understand the most sustainable choices for a given design and specification. There are numerous project level tools that can do this, look out for BRE’s IMPACT third party certified tools such as One Click LCA and eTool

1. Raw Material Extraction

2. Material Transport

3. Manufacture

4. Product Distribution

5. Site Assembly & Waste

6. Maintenance & Replacement

7. Recycled

8. Disposal

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