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Application and Refinement of BEES (Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability) for Enhancing Building Life Cycle Assessments


This project focuses on the application of the Life-Cycle-Assessment (LCA) methodology to enhance metrics and tools for assessing buildings' environmental impacts. This objective will be accomplished by conducting a life cycle inventory of the upstream and downstream environmental burdens of a newly-built classroom/office building on the University of Michigan campus (Sam Wyly Hall). The project is organized in three phases over a three-year period. Specific objectives for Year One are:

 a) Test the use of BEES 2.0 b on a state-of-the-art commercial building, and combine BEES' per-unit outputs with the building materials inventory in order to generate an overall environmental profile of the building's materials.

 b) Develop a total-life-cycle model of Wyly Hall using BEES 2.0 b in combination with thermal modeling software , while also incorporating the end-of-life phase. For a more comprehensive LCA of Wyly Hall, we will identify materials and environmental impacts not included in BEES 2.0 b, both, through a detailed material inventory, and the use of non-BEES LCA resources . By comparing these results we will be able to determine the fraction of total impacts covered by the current BEES version.

c) Based on the results in b) recommend improvements of the current BEES version.

  Research Methods for Year One

The study will build upon a recently completed LEED™ assessment of Sam Wyly Hall on the University of Michigan's Central Campus. This 78,700 sqft building has six stories, of which three are mixed office/classroom use, while the remainder contains hotel rooms. Due to LEED's coverage of both, the complex web of local and global environmental impacts, as well as the issues around human well-being, the study requires a combination of various research methods a) LCA of building materials, b) thermal modeling, c) local ecosystem impact evaluation, and d) human-health assessment: a) The traditional LCA approach for quantifying the upstream" and "downstream" environmental impacts of construction materials and components.  The LCA will utilize both, BEES 2.0 b, and other databases b) Thermal modeling of the building with professional software  to determine annual, site-specific heating, cooling and electricity loads

Objectives for Years Two and Three are:d) Recommend modifications to LEED's point system with the goal of providing a more accurate distribution of credits in each environmental impact category.e) Develop the basis for the creation of new modules, which will allow to incorporate the following issues into BEES: · site location · construction site management practices · landscape design · indoor environmental quality, complementing the existing VOC-content based method with parameters for air filtration, CO2 concentration, humidity, thermal comfort, illumination/daylight, views etc.

University of Michigan - Plant Department
National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST)
Research Areas
Urban Systems and Built Environment