Technical Papers

Probabilistic Assessment of the Life-Cycle Environmental Performance and Functional Life of Buildings due to Seismic Events


Quantifying the environmental impacts of buildings is a key step in realizing resilient and sustainable buildings. Buildings are vulnerable to natural hazards during their functional life, and the structural performance of the building affects its environmental impacts due to repair of hazard-related damage. This study presents a rational probabilistic approach to quantify the life-cycle environmental performance and functional life of buildings located in regions threatened by seismic hazards. The approach simulates multiple discrete earthquake event scenarios used to estimate the functional life of the building: an important metric for assessing the sustainability and resilience of buildings. It also calculates the hazard-related life-cycle environmental impacts directly from the materials needed to repair different components while accounting for uncertainty in each phase of the analysis. The approach is demonstrated on a case-study steel building, with illustrative results showing the impact of component groups on the overall environmental performance of the building. The building performed well structurally, but with considerable impacts due to damage to nonstructural components. The approach can be used to study a variety of building designs.