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Siegel & Strain’s most complete Tally LCA analysis was conducted on a highly insulated, high performance research facility at the University of California, Davis. The 8,500-square-foot, zero net energy building was completed in 2013, but the design team decided to use Tally as part of a post-building assessment to understand the global warming potential of its materials. In addition to evaluating the embodied environmental impacts of the steel and concrete that were primarily used in the building’s construction, the team also wanted to examine the long-term implications of the large amounts of polyisocyanurate foam insulation that made the building so thermally efficient and helped it achieve its zero net energy status. While this foam was successful in increasing the facility’s operational efficiency, the Tally report revealed a huge embodied carbon impact associated with its manufacturing process. “Looking at the project’s life cycle trade-offs, we are now questioning the use of such large amounts of foam to achieve net zero energy status,” Strain said.

© 2019 BY J. JOHNSTON