Life-Cycle Cost Is Key to Zero Waste

The nature and impact of "pollution" is dependent upon the type of project; listing the sources and methods to reduce them is less important than knowing...

03/01/2001


The nature and impact of "pollution" is dependent upon the type of project; listing the sources and methods to reduce them is less important than knowing how to develop an approach that will be truly successful.

When a client charges a design firm with maximizing environmental sustainability, the first step the designer should take is to clearly and quantitatively define the client's objectives. Then, for example, if the primary objective is to minimize release of greenhouse gases, the designer must fully understand the impact of each source of emission.

The next frontier in sustainable engineering design is in the true and full life-cycle assessment of building materials, furnishings, equipment and supplies. Using this approach, decision-making is required for each product that will be a component of a building. This decision-making addresses the environmental impact of:

  • Development of the product's raw material.

 

  • Manufacturing of the product itself.

 

  • Transportation of the product to the site.

 

  • The very product itself while it serves its useful life.

 

  • The ultimate reuse, recycling or disposal of the product.

One example of a company pressing new limits in sustainable manufacturing is Interface, Inc., a leading provider of interior furnishings. In addition to continually striving towards "zero waste" at their manufacturing facilities, Interface offers upholstery to customers on a "fiber-lease" basis. Interface never relinquishes ownership of the fiber, selling customers only the right to use it. When the fiber has served its useful life, Interface removes it, installs new "leased fiber"-if requested-and incorporates the expended fiber back into their manufacturing process.

Return to "M/E Roundtable: Zero Waste and Green Buildings"





No comments
Consulting-Specifying Engineer's Product of the Year (POY) contest is the premier award for new products in the HVAC, fire, electrical, and...
Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing the most talented young individuals...
The MEP Giants program lists the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering firms in the United States.
Combined heat and power; Assessing replacement of electrical systems; Energy codes and lighting; Salary Survey; Fan efficiency
Commissioning lighting control systems; 2016 Commissioning Giants; Design high-efficiency hot water systems for hospitals; Evaluating condensation and condensate
Solving HVAC challenges; Thermal comfort criteria; Liquid-immersion cooling; Specifying VRF systems; 2016 Product of the Year winners
Driving motor efficiency; Preventing Arc Flash in mission critical facilities; Integrating alternative power and existing electrical systems
Putting COPS into context; Designing medium-voltage electrical systems; Planning and designing resilient, efficient data centers; The nine steps of designing generator fuel systems
Designing generator systems; Using online commissioning tools; Selective coordination best practices
As brand protection manager for Eaton’s Electrical Sector, Tom Grace oversees counterfeit awareness...
Amara Rozgus is chief editor and content manager of Consulting-Specifier Engineer magazine.
IEEE power industry experts bring their combined experience in the electrical power industry...
Michael Heinsdorf, P.E., LEED AP, CDT is an Engineering Specification Writer at ARCOM MasterSpec.
click me