This paper demonstrates how to achieve energy savings in the construction and operation of buildings by promoting the use of life cycle assessment techniques in the design for new buildings and for refurbishment. The paper aims to draw on the application of a specific methodology for low energy consumption, integrated planning, environmental performance evaluation of buildings, and design for sustainability and LCA techniques applied to buildings. The ENergy Saving through promotion of LIfe Cycle assessment in buildings (ENSLIC) methodology based on LCA for use in an integral planning process has been promoted to stakeholders who require a means to optimize the environmental performance of buildings. Feedback from the stakeholders has facilitated the creation of simplified LCA guidelines, a systematic approach guiding the user through the alternative options regarding software choices, their strengths and weaknesses, the databases available, the usefulness of different indicators, aggregation, definition of limits and options for simplifying the process. As a result, this paper presents the applied results of a case study where this methodology is implemented serving as an energy savings evaluation tool for decision makers, end-users, professionals involved in the different stages of construction, etc.
Finally, it is demonstrated how LCA can facilitate comparisons between different buildings, showing the influence of all variables on a building’s life cycle environmental impact and showing the potential for energy savings. Removing market barriers to sustainable construction is actually stricter and this is good news for promoting higher energy efficiency in buildings.