This is Concrete: Secrets of a Long Life

For many years, the Holy Grail of sustainability has been to understand the impact of different design choices over the whole life of a building. There has been much discussion over how to achieve this with available data, with emphasis shuttling between embodied and operational impacts. The best answer needs to consider the lifecycle of the building’s components and materials and their contribution to minimising the overall impact.

This is now within reach of the designer. The challenge has been to identify the many complex factors that come into play before a building gets to site and over the rest of its life and eventual demolition, and then to define appropriate metrics by which to measure them. Happily there is now a European standard, EN 15804 for products, which provides the framework for measuring whole-life impacts, reassuring specifiers that they are comparing apples with apples. In time, EN 15978 for whole buildings is likely to become the dominant calculation method used by the industry, bringing together all the elements of whole-life assessment into a single methodology.

In 2016, the industry launched a project to prepare generic environmental product declarations (EPDs) in accordance with EN 15804 for a range of concrete products will provide designers with a key component of their whole-life sustainability assessments through the different design stages of a project. This project forms part of the industry's Sustainable Construction Strategy.

In addition, The Concrete Centre provides essential advice on whole-life performance from different angles, encompassing specification, designing for material efficiency and lifecycle analysis. Browse the publication library or follow the links for the guides:

The This is Concrete magazine explores these themes in more detail with features on: whole-life carbon, resilient thinking, product lifecycles, high-performance homes and concrete's whole-life credentials.