Life Cycle Cost Analysis of Non-Residential Buildings

Lead Author: Dr. Jim Bowyer

Publish date: 10.21.2013

 

The goals of this report are to clarify the differences between Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA) and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), summarize what is known about the life cycle costs of non-residential wood construction, compare the life cycle costs of wood structures to those of other materials, and review processes for conducting life cycle cost analyses on structural systems or whole buildings. Summaries of LCCA resources are also provided.

 

Among the findings of this report are:

 

  • Published life cycle cost analysis information for commercial buildings is sparse, particularly for wooden structures.
  • LCCA is required for federal buildings.
  • Life cycle environmental costs (impacts) are not considered in LCCA in current practice, indicating a clear difference between LCA and LCCA as currently structured.
  • Current indices of the useful lives of various products allocate lower useful lives to wood than other materials without clear basis for any of the chosen values.
  • Despite a pervasive perception that the useful life of wood structures is lower than buildings of other materials – there is no meaningful relationship between the type of structural material and average service life.
  • The combined lack of LCCA research on wood use in construction and the common availability of what appear to be non-research based estimates of useful lives of materials can create an unwarranted bias against the use of wood in structures.
  • Development of definitive, research-based information on durability/longevity of wood structural and non-structural elements used in various building applications is needed.