Integrated optimisation of life cycle environmental and financial performance in buildings

Monique Schmidt - PhD Completion Seminar

Japanese Room, Level 4
MSD Building

There is a growing concern about the effect that buildings are having on the environment. Mitigation strategies tend to focus on one life cycle stage, namely operational, leaving the other life cycle stages, such as embodied, largely ignored. The slow uptake of whole life cycle design is further hindered by the uncertainty attached to the financial implications of this life cycle environmental optimisation. However, evaluating building design options with a focus on simultaneously minimising life cycle environmental and financial performance is difficult due to a lack of comprehensive and accessible tools. Integrating life cycle perspective tools such as life cycle assessment (LCA) and life cycle costing (LCC) can help address this uncertainty and demonstrate the trade offs between economic and environmental considerations and ultimately aid the decision-making process. This study describes the development of a comprehensive integrated LCA and LCC framework for building evaluation and demonstrates its potential by applying to built environment examples. This demonstration highlights the fact that more sustainable solutions are not always the most expensive, as previously perceived, especially when assessing the buildings performance from a life cycle perspective. It also emphasises that building design strategies that aim to decrease the environmental impact also have a beneficial impact on the financial performance of buildings. This study further demonstrated the large amount of uncertainty associated with life cycle studies and highlighted the various sensitivity parameters, such as period of analysis and discount rate, which needs to be taken into account when discussing the integrated framework results. The use of the developed tool will allow building designers and users to investigate different design options and base final selection on options that aim to optimise the environmental performance whilst providing an understanding as to the financial implication of this optimisation. Therefore potentially increasing the uptake of building strategies that consider the whole life cycle and harness the creation of a low carbon built environment.


Monique completed her Masters of Architecture at The University of Cape Town and Masters of Science in Environmental Design and Engineering at The University College of London and has since worked as an architect and sustainability consultant in Cape Town, London and New York. She commenced her PhD in January 2015 at The University of Melbourne under the CRC for Low Carbon Living Ltd project ‘Integrated Carbon Metrics’.


Anna Catherine Hurliman


A/Professor Robert Crawford

Advisory Committee:

  • Andre Stephan
  • Georgia Warren-Myers