The designer’s formative influence on the lifecycle environmental impact of a house
Authors: Henriksen, Janet
ABSTRACT: This paper aims to quantitatively evaluate the impact of design decisions on the energy
use and resultant carbon dioxide impact of a house. It will compare the modelled impacts of house over
a lifetime of three architect’s designs in a temperate zone. It will suggest in analogy that the impact of
a dwelling’s life and death is dependant on the decisions of the designer at its conception.
Research into energy in buildings previously has focused on two aspects: the embodied energy in
materials used in construction and the energy used to heat and cool a building. This paper draws
together these two areas of study and evaluates them in a structured way, to form a hybrid framework
for an accounting process to assist decision-making. Computer modelling programs are used and the
results evaluated in the context of a modelled lifestyle. The BHP Steel LISA program, which assesses
the impact of the materials used, is linked to NatHERS, a program used to analyse comfort and energy
use. Analysis is presented to show environmental cost/benefits of various strategies employed by
designers. This framework and method allows analysis of design decisions reducing the inherent
complexity of residential design in temperate climates.