What are the stages of a building's life span?

Understanding a building’s life cycle

Levit Green - Houston, TX
Caption Levit Green - Houston, TX

What’s the Point?

The life of a building includes many phases from initial development to renovations, and eventual decommissioning. Every phase uses energy that creates carbon emissions that should be actively evaluated and reduced.

To organize and track a building’s carbon impact, its life span can be broken out into different stages. Each stage represents a different timeframe in a building’s life cycle, from beginning to end, and is associated with varying levels of carbon emissions. These stages are described in detail in European Standards (EN) 15978 and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard 14040:

Get the Point

Subscribe Now

For more industry trends and insights, check out The Point

  • Product Stage: raw material extraction, transportation, and manufacture into building materials or products
  • Construction Stage: transportation of building components and their construction or installation
  • Embodied Use Stage: upkeep of building components, including maintenance and replacement, along with renovations.
  • Operational Use Stage: energy and water consumption due to building operations
  • End-of-Life Stage: demolition of building and disposal of waste
  • Considerations Outside System Boundary: recovery of building components and their reuse or recycle along with sequestration.

All of these stages, with the exception of the Operational Use Stage, contribute to the total embodied carbon impact of a building. For many buildings, the initial Product Stage is the largest contributor to its total embodied carbon emissions. In some instances, this stage can make up to three quarters or more of the embodied carbon impact.

To make a greater impact on emissions, activate reductions throughout the active life of a property. Learn more in our Embodied Carbon Reduction Guide.

The Product Stage is typically the largest contributor to embodied carbon
Caption The Product Stage is typically the largest contributor to embodied carbon