Life Cycle Analysis Moves Forward: Further Funding Needed

February 25th, 2011 by DWM Magazine

The industry is getting closer to life cycle analysis data for windows, for both the commercial and residential industries, but before research groups can move forward further funding is needed. That was the message from Kerry Haglund, senior research fellow, Center for Sustainable Building Research, University of Minnesota, when she addressed members of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) during their annual meeting held earlier this week. She also spoke to dwmmag.com™ while there to offer further details regarding these efforts.

ISO 14040 specifies an iterative four-stage or phased methodology framework for completing an LCA including defining the goal and scope; creating the life cycle inventory; a life cycle impact assessment; and interpretations.

Life cycle assessment (LCA) is an analytical method used to comprehensively quantify and interpret the environmental flows to and from the environment (including emissions to air, land, and water, as well as the consumption of energy and material resources), over the entire life cycle of a product (or process or service), explained Haglund.

The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) is also looking into LCA for “different reasons” but the two groups decided to pool their efforts.

“There is a huge overlap in the data we are both collecting on the commercial side so we are partnering with them to collect this data,” said Haglund. The University of Minnesota and the Athena Institute will continue to gather data for the residential market.

“There is no current LCA data for windows in the United States,” said Haglund.

Once the data is gathered it will be entered into the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s LCI national database.

Haglund said everyone from the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Star® program to door and window manufacturers have been asking for LCA data.

Last year, the DOE contributed $50,000 to the University’s research efforts and recently EPA has committed to $25,000 more. The National Fenestration Rating Council contributed $7,500, as well.

But more is needed and that was part of the reason for Haglund’s presentation at AAMA.

She asked the association to contribute $60,000 for phase one and $24,000 for phase two so the Center can continue its efforts. She also requested the same amount from the Window and Door Manufacturers Association. An additional $30,000 for phase one and $18,000 for phase two were requested from both the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance and the Glass Association of North America.

“We’ve been on hold,” said Haglund. “NIST put their efforts on hold as well so we can catch up.”

When addressing AAMA members, Haglund pointed out that the DOE is looking for industry support.

“The DOE wants to see industry support [funding] for phase one and then they will commit to contribute funds to phase two,” she said.

She added that further progress requires this additional funding. Haglund hopes the funding will be received in the next two weeks so the University can proceed with its phase one efforts, which she describes as “cradle to gate.” Phase two will consist of “cradle to grave.”

Stay tuned for dwmmag.com™ for updates on funding approvals.



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