A design integrated parametric tool for real-time Life Cycle Assessment – Bombyx project

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) has become a widely accepted method for environmental assessment of buildings, but is still not commonly applied in design practice. The biggest potential for optimization and reduction of GHG emissions lies in the early stages of the design process. Therefore, a design-integrated approach for LCA is needed. The goal of this paper is to describe the development of a parametric LCA tool for application in early design stages in the Swiss context. The envisioned users of the tool are primarily architecture and engineering students, but also practitioners. The integration of LCA throughout the design process is solved through a modular strategy. In the early stage, pre-defined components are selected to model a complete LCA. In the following design steps when more information is available, individual materials can be input with higher level of detail. The Bombyx tool is developed as a plugin for Grasshopper based on Rhinoceros3D and includes an SQL material and component database. Users are able to choose different materials and building systems and quickly modify the building’s geometry while continuously receiving the calculated environmental impact in real-time. Visualization of the results, e.g. colour code indicate how the design performs in relation to a benchmark or optimization potential. The project is developed in open source to broaden the user and developer community and foster new ideas, designs and implementations in Bombyx.

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