The design and construction phases in the life cycle of buildings provide a great opportunity to “lock in” environmental benefits over the long use phase of buildings. Our projects have investigated the environmental trade-offs between alternative building materials and construction options for New Zealand buildings.
Forestry is one of New Zealand’s main primary sector industries. Forests can act as carbon sinks, and and wood byproducts can be processed into valuable biopolymers and fuels. Our projects have investigated the carbon footprint of timber products, and processing wood into biopolymers.
We have undertaken a number of carbon and water footprint studies of horticultural crops ranging from kiwifruit to apples to berryfruit.
The application of Life Cycle Thinking to support organisational decision-making requires attention to change processes, organisational structures and value systems. Through our projects, we have explored how to implement Life Cycle Management across a range of organisations.
Our carbon, water and eutrophication footprinting studies have used LCA methodology to broaden understanding of the life cycle impacts of the livestock sector in New Zealand.
“The devil is in the detail” and this is particularly true in LCA where methodological assumptions may have an important impacts on the results, and data may be missing or incomplete for some processes in an LCA study. At the NZLCM Centre, we have been involved in work to develop inventory datasets and responsibly address the implications of alternative methodological choices.
Industrial ecology takes the perspective that industrial activities can be reorganised to mimic natural ecosystems where waste materials and energy are recycled and reused - rather than being based on linear throughput systems. We are interested in how alternative economic systems can be developed to close the loop for waste materials and energy.