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One for the Sustainability Managers and Architects

2 July 2024

The purpose of the Return to Form Comparative Life Cycle Assessment Study building study is to use whole building life cycle assessment (WBLCA) and cost estimating to understand the embodied carbon and dollar cost implications of choosing between functionally equivalent mass timber, steel, and concrete structural systems. It compares a mass timber reference building—Return to Form, located in Denver, Colorado—to alternatives designed in cold-formed steel (CFS) and concrete. Comparisons between the three systems are made in terms of embodied carbon, construction dollar cost, and speed of construction. The variations between architectural designs (construction type, enclosures, fire protection, acoustic performance, and ceiling finishes) are included in the analyses.

The Return to Form building study is intended to be read together with the Mass Timber Comparative Life Cycle Assessment Series Introduction, which details aspects common to all studies in the series, including methodology, approach, scope, and code compliance of the comparative designs, life cycle assessment (LCA) and dollar cost analyses, and the importance of embodied carbon and biogenic carbon as part of the building industry’s strategy to address climate change and environmental degradation. This study details information specific to Return to Form and any variations from the series introduction.

Click here to download the study.

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