What is Life Cycle Cost Optioneering?

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Life Cycle Cost Optioneering is a way of assessing alternative design options, analyzing their long-term capital and operational costs to identify those with the lowest price tag – over the entire lifecycle. A key benefit of this technique is that it pinpoints the design features and solutions that consume less energy, produce less CO2 and consume less materials and water, in addition to program implications, operational impact, logistics etc. This in turn helps decision makers clearly see the advantages of choosing green solutions and the options available – while providing sound financial evidence for supporting them. Life Cycle Cost Optioneering is a combination of Life Cycle Costing and Life Cycle Assessment. Similar tools were used when the 32nd floor of the Empire State Building was retrofitted to meet high environmental standards throughout a 15-year lease.

Empire State Building

Thinking in lifecycles has made a big difference in our business. It means seeing a building, bridge or road in terms of a cycle. Function, environmental consequences and costs are spread over its lifetime – from construction and operation to final reuse when it has completed its service. Of course, planning for the entire lifecycle requires a lot more work on the front end. Issues become more complex when you have to plan decades or even centuries ahead, and that can sometimes mean a departure from standard financial models. But the gains are that much greater. Lifecycle analysis means figuring in – from the very start – the environmental benefits that will save energy and reduce emissions throughout a structure’s lifetime. You can plan in flexibility to efficiently utilize a building even when new conditions arise later in its lifetime. It also means selecting materials and designs that can be easily recycled. Similarly, a lifecycle cost calculation includes not only figuring out what it will cost to build a hospital, for example, but finding out what it will cost for its entire lifetime. Buildings and infrastructure that are planned, budgeted and designed in this way might well be more expensive up front to build than those traditionally procured – but lower operating costs over the lifetime of the project can soon make it worth the investment.

Myrrh Caplan

posted by Myrrh Caplan

Skanska USA National Program Manager - Green Construction

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Why construction materials matter

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The more holistically we think, the more important materials become. If you had asked people 50 years ago what houses would be made of in 2010, the average answer might have been titanium, aluminum and high-impact plastic. Reality has long since rendered that view obsolete. We now understand that the world has a finite amount of resources available – and that goes for the construction and operation of our buildings and infrastructure as well.

straw

Did you know straw can be used for insulation? photo credit: Special via photopin cc

So, now we may use recycled paper on the building’s exterior, or use straw for insulation.

We may use bricks made of residues taken from wastewater treatment plants, and make roofs of living plants. Or we may choose something completely different. Because a green building philosophy means choosing the building material that is best suited to the conditions at the particular site.

Environmentally sound materials.

Among the most interesting requirements is that materials should be produced as close to the construction site as possible. They should not contain hazardous materials, and they should be produced with minimal effect on the environment. They should be easily recycled – and preferably made out of recycled materials such as paper, recycled aluminum or leftover stone chips. And naturally, materials and products carrying an environmental label should be selected whenever possible.

Another thing about the future: The material should be future-proof. In other words, it should last the entire lifecycle of the building.

Reducing waste and packaging.

Just as important as selecting the correct material is not using too much, or processing it any more than necessary. There are great environmental savings to be made by minimizing excess.

First off, of course, resources are saved that would have been spent producing the material. But this approach also reduces the transport of material, and thereby the emissions – first to the building site, and then away from the building site, carrying all the leftover materials and waste. Another way to reduce waste is to deliver materials and installations, such as appliances and other machinery, without packaging.

Using less material and packaging saves a lot of resources. And if you like to watch the bottom line, you’ll soon see that less material also means lower costs.

Recycled paper can be used in many ways. Richlite is a material used for exterior wall systems – it’s made from recycled paper and natural fibers from environmentally certified forests.

Eco Bricks, sturdy blocks made out of plastic bottles filled with non-recyclable waste and include water treatment residues can replace traditional bricks in many projects

Paper Stone is a surfacing made from recycled paper, cashew nut oils and water-based resins. It was used when retrofitting the 32nd floor of the Empire State Building.

Recycled truck tires make terrific flooring for outside play areas at schools.

Lastly, on top of all these environmental materials, Skanska has also constructed with the Living Building Challenge (LBC) in mind. LBC is widely considered the world’s most rigorous building performance standard. A Living Building generates all of its own energy through clean, renewable resources; captures and treats its own water; incorporates only non-toxic, appropriately sourced materials; and operates efficiently and for maximum beauty. A building must perform as designed for one full year of occupancy and pass a third-party audit before receiving certification as “Living.” See how we made Seattle’s Bertschi School Science Classroom come to life.

Myrrh Caplan

posted by Myrrh Caplan

Skanska USA National Program Manager - Green Construction

More Posts - Website - LinkedIn

Smart ways to reduce CO2 emissions

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Fact: Built environments are responsible for around 40 percent of all energy use and man-made carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

How can we address this issue? We could stop breathing – but there are more efficient ways to reduce CO2 emissions.

Co2 Emissions

photo credit: Tobias Mandt via photopin cc

A project’s design can have a significant effect on its carbon footprint, and therefore on climate change. Energy demand and efficiency are critical factors in a building’s design. To minimize CO2 emissions, here are some things to consider:

- Use renewable energy. In several of our projects, the design has included on-site renewable energy generation, which may come from solar or geothermal sources – saving energy as well as money. (After all, the sun doesn’t send invoices.)

- Design it better. Roads can be designed to improve traffic efficiency, thereby reducing emissions.

- Carefully select materials. The use of low-carbon concrete, low-temperature asphalt and locally produced materials, to name just a few, can all lower CO2 emissions. Another approach is to optimize the design to use less material and to use more efficient ways of handling materials, such as by reusable packaging that reduces waste and transportation – and hence CO2 emissions.

 

Myrrh Caplan

posted by Myrrh Caplan

Skanska USA National Program Manager - Green Construction

More Posts - Website - LinkedIn

What happens when more and more people move to bigger and bigger cities?

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More people are moving to cities, which are growing ever larger. For the first time in world history, more people live in cities than in rural areas. And that trend is not going away. By 2030, we expect that 60 percent of the world’s population will live in cities, and the big cities will only get bigger.

Brooklyn Bridge Park

Brooklyn Bridge Park

photo credit: Meng Tian via photopin cc

This urbanization trend creates a strong demand for construction and development services, and Skanska specializes in city building – both in terms of construction and development. After all, we’ve been shaping cities for more than 125 years. As early as 1900, we delivered the concrete piping to Russia that’s still the basis of St. Petersburg’s sewer system. Today, we have a strong presence in 39 cities across the U.S., from New York to Los Angeles, Florida to the Pacific Northwest and many cities in between.

We’ve found that highly dense areas can be far more efficient settings, requiring fewer resources for more people to live. (Think of the reduced energy needed to move each person on a New York City subway than in a car.)

Or as the United Nations World Population Prospects reports concludes: “Given that the world’s future will be urban, development initiatives must address the challenges and make the best of the opportunities that growing urban centers bring.”

Myrrh Caplan

posted by Myrrh Caplan

Skanska USA National Program Manager - Green Construction

More Posts - Website - LinkedIn