Early-stage Lifecycle Optimization of Building Cost, Carbon & Design Diversity

Buildings have a long lifespan, from the embodied stage, including manufacturing and construction, all the way to the operational stage when we are using the buildings. To explore optimal design solutions with minimized cost and carbon impact, we need to analyze buildings in a lifecycle thinking. There are many existing life cycle analysis (LCA) tools on the market, but improvements are still needed. The research will start from the product comparison between existing tools and propose innovative improvements needed in a new workflow, followed by introductions of technical details.

The workflow can analyze conceptual geometries in Grasshopper, making LCA a seamless addition to the Rhino design process. It also considers early-stage design uncertainties and users’ flexibility to choose from diverse design solutions. The workflow recommends not only sustainable features of building attributes but also optimal detailed design solutions. On average, the workflow helps save ~10% on costs and ~ 20% on the carbon impact. Take an office building as an example (10 stories, 900 m2 floor areas); 10% cost saving corresponds to around $6 million. With different weights assigned to three objectives, users can emphasize cost or impact and control diversity.