Athena and PE INTERNATIONAL Co-author White Paper for the Construction Industry on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

Share Article

The authors urge design professionals to incorporate LCA in their decision-making framework with the conviction that this tool will help lower the environmental footprint of the construction industry

News Image
LCA is about best estimates and gauging relative performance across options. It is not about determining if a product is ‘green’ or not, but about quantifying impacts and seeing if, how, and where we can improve.

Responding to a rapid move by the construction sector toward Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), The Athena Sustainable Materials Institute and PE INTERNATIONAL, Inc. have teamed up to co-author a white paper that sets out the facts about this sometimes misunderstood environmental tool.

Entitled “LCA in Construction – status, impact and limitations,” the paper provides concise information about LCA, the role of LCA in codes, standards and rating programs, and the recommended application of LCA in the manufacturing sector and in design practice.

Lead authors Steve Baer and Christoph Koffler (PE INTERNATIONAL) and Jennifer O’Connor and Jamie Meil (Athena Institute) are thought-leaders in the field of LCA who share the conviction that life cycle thinking in construction is now more important than ever.

LCA is a science-based method that measures the material and energy flows to and from nature over the lifetime of a product or service, and assesses the potential impact of those flows on resources, ecosystems and human health. LCA has the potential to help lower the environmental footprint of the construction industry, green our products, and ultimately guide us to a more sustainable way of doing business.

In North America, LCA in construction is in use by leading-edge designers, while major producers of building materials are using LCA to improve their processes. LCA is simultaneously robust and in a constant process of improvement: the LCA world is working diligently to make LCA as accessible, applicable, and reliable as possible for the construction sector.

The following quote from the paper emphasizes the authors’ balanced approach to their topic: “LCA is about best estimates and gauging relative performance across options. It is not about determining if a product is ‘green’ or not, but about quantifying impacts and seeing if, how, and where we can improve.”

To read or download the white paper, please click here.

About the Athena Sustainable Materials Institute
The Athena Sustainable Materials Institute is a non-profit research group bringing tools and data to the construction sector for the next generation of “green.” Since 1997, the Athena Institute has focused on quantification of sustainability in design. We work with leading edge architects, engineers, building owners and material manufacturers to measure the real environmental impact of buildings, infrastructure and construction materials using life cycle assessment (LCA). The only North American organization dedicated to construction-sector LCA, Athena develops and maintains a large LCA database for construction materials and provides the LCA-based Impact Estimator and EcoCalculator software tools to building designers. Contact us to learn more about LCA in design practice, get our tools, or support us in our work to advance the tools and the construction databases.

Connect with Athena on Twitter (@AthenaSMI), YouTube ( and LinkedIn (

PE INTERNATIONAL is the global leader in integrated product and enterprise sustainability performance providing market leading software solutions, sustainability databases and consulting expertise. With over 20 years of experience and 20 offices around the globe, PE INTERNATIONAL enables clients to understand sustainability, improve their performance and succeed in the marketplace. PE INTERNATIONAL is working with 1,500 clients including some of the world's most respected brands to develop the strategies, management systems, tools and processes necessary to achieve leadership in sustainability.
For more information:

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print