This analysis considers Future-Proofing Principle #8, Life Cycle Analysis (LCA), in detail. By taking a 200 year long comparative life cycle analysis of the same building with different building materials, the environmental impacts of the building systems are compared on an equal basis. Wood construction is compared with steel and light gauge metal, structural steel and CMU, and concrete structure with brick and stone. The phrase “First Impacts” is developed and described for the first time in this research with relation to life cycle analysis and describes the environmental impacts of creating and installing building materials, as distinct from the maintenance and renovation impacts.
By considering a 200 year life cycle, this analysis also eliminates the benefits of biogenic carbon, or carbon that is sequestered in woody plant material as it is harvested and converted into lumber. Because the length of the life cycle is so long in this analysis, sequestered biogenic carbon is considered to have been released through the use and decay of the wood materials. The intent here is to demonstrate that the “benefits” of biogenic carbon are nullified by the eventual deterioration and release of the carbon.