New Report from Dovetail Partners Investigates Life Cycle Cost Analysis of Non-Residential Buildings

Process for accounting for building costs lacks consistency and needs more credible research-based information


(Mpls, MN) - A new report from Dovetail Partners evaluates Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA) of non-residential buildings. The report clarifies the differences between LCCA and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). The report also summarizes published information regarding life cycle costs of non-residential wood construction, compares the life cycle costs associated with buildings constructed of wood vs. those constructed of other materials, and reviews processes for conducting LCCA.


"From our investigation, it is clear that there are significant gaps in current data sets, significant risk of biased or inaccurate assumptions, and therefore the potential for unintended consequences when poorly developed LCCA results are used to inform decision making," says Jim Bowyer, Director of Dovetail Partner's Responsible Materials Program and lead author on the report. "Current indices of the useful lives of building products vary considerable and there is no clear basis for any of the values commonly used."


Among the findings of the report are:



  • Environmental impacts and costs are not considered in LCCA in current practice, whereas LCA focuses on measurable environmental impacts - a clear difference between LCA and LCCA
  • Published, peer-reviewed life cycle cost analysis information is not widely available
  • Definitive, research-based information on the durability and longevity of building components is needed in order for LCCA to be an effective tool

The authors found that LCCA is commonly applied in public sector projects. Its use is required in building projects of the federal government and is increasingly required in projects funded by various state governments. LCCA is also gaining popularity in private sector building construction.


"For LCCA to support positive improvement in the design and construction of buildings, there needs to be better information available to support the analysis," says Bowyer. "Even the most detailed and rigorous analysis is effectively worthless if the input data and assumptions are flawed. Based on our review, some assumptions may result in a significant departure from reality due to the scarcity of quality research-based information."


The full report is available at the Dovetail Partners website: