Decision support system for building construction product selection using life-cycle management (lcm)
Quinones, Maria Cecilia
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As the green movement begins to sweep through the construction industry, decision-makers are beginning to include a sustainable aspect to their purchase decisions. Selecting a product solely based on its sustainability, however, is not enough to drive product selection in the construction industry. Cost still dominates the selection of building products. The level of sustainability of a product and its cost are not interconnected as market prices do not reflect the cost of environmental impacts, such as the cost of global warming or fossil fuel depletion. Having two distinct aspects to consider adds complexity in the product selection process. Typically, it constrains decision-makers to perform a trade-off analysis that does not necessarily guarantee the most environmentally preferable purchase decision. This study proposes a life-cycle management (LCM) system that reinforces the choices made by decision-makers by providing a scientific justification for those decisions. The proposed system analyses the environmental and economic performance of building product through life-cycle analysis and purchase price analysis. It operates on tools publicly available in the market and state-of-the-art analysis, assessment, and interpretation methods. The LCM system combines two distinct product attributes into a single performance score that can be easily interpreted. It allows decision-makers to compare product scores and ultimately make the most environmentally responsible and financially viable selection. A comprehensive approach is used to refine and test the LCM system using case studies comprised of an environmental and economic performance evaluation of flooring products. The contribution of this research includes the consideration of a holistic approach to product selection based on environmental and cost performance. Pre-construction estimators and construction managers could improve their estimating and product selection practices using the proposed system. Material suppliers can also benefit from this approach, as they can use it to enhance their pricing strategies, marketing plans, and overall product competitiveness.