The Cycle of Life – An assessment

Chris Bester, HLG Associates Environment and Sustainability Consultant, is currently undertaking a CPD course in Life Cycle Assessment. With the world’s political and media attention fully focussed on the final few days of COP26, it is appropriate that Chris is this week understanding how the decisions made at COP26 will impact the built environment.

University College London is running the Life Cycle Assessment programme in collaboration with Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s education team. Life Cycle Assessment is an environmental tool to determine the environmental impact of a product or system over its whole life – from production to use and recycling, re-use or disposal (“cradle to the grave”) and is vital in developing the circular economy. For example, the product or system can be a phone, car, printer, and in HLG Associates case includes the construction of buildings.

It is clear that within a short space of time, new requirements will be in place for organisations to fully understand their impact on the environment. It is therefore essential that organisations embrace their own Life Cycle Assessment programme to provide the evidence needed to;

  • Reduce pollution and resource use – as quantifiable values are produced to allow comparison and analysis
  • Avoid shifting of environmental impacts.
  • Minimising secondary effects if used in conjunction with design prevents higher operational emissions. Construction materials are often chosen to have the lowest possible emissions; however, lifetime performance is worse, and overall life cycle emissions are higher.
  • Meet environmental regulations

Chris is finding the four-day course beneficial and informative and is particularly enjoying the online group sessions with other sustainability consultants from the rest of Europe.

Chris believes that the course will benefit HLG existing and future clients in several ways.

“The experience gained over the last four days will enable me to help HLG clients to consider the impact of a new build versus renovation. If we go down the route of a new build, we will then explore the impact of material used, such as timber frame versus concrete. We can also help the client by calculating embedded carbon construction and estimating operational emissions. Finally, we can also look at the overall true lifetime impact of a new build.”

From a background in Chemistry and Health & Safety, Chris’s career has developed to encompass a wide range of environmental management specialisms. These include formal environmental audits, waste reduction and risk management, emission controls and certification, and organisational carbon footprint strategies. He has further been closely involved in the planning and execution of CSR programmes designed to support organisational environmental aims.

To find out how HLG Associates can help you with your Life Cycle Assessment or any of our environmental and sustainability services please call Chris on 07797 833225 or email

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