In the last decade, various organizations have developed computer-based modeling tools that attempt to qualify the potential environmental impacts and performance of various building materials. These models are generically known as Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) tools. LCAs have been developed to help user choose the most environmentally friendly building materials and building designs. Thus far, these tools have been used primarily by architects, designers, product manufacturers, and builders and engineers in the commercial building industry.
Given the potential importance of these tools for America's homebuilders, HUD commissioned the NAHB Research Center to convene a meeting of experts to thoroughly examine these issues. This publication presents the results of this examination. The report presents a critique of LCAs, and offers suggestions on how they could be made more useful.