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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/T019514/1
Title: FNR - Attenuating the Environmental Impact of our Buildings through Semantic-based Dynamic Life cycle Assessment (SemanticLCA)
Principal Investigator: Rezgui, Professor Y
Other Investigators:
Beach, Dr T PETRI, Dr I
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
AEC 3 Atkins Belval Fund
BRE Group (Building Res Establishment) CRTI-B Drees and Sommer
Engelhart Commodities Trading Ptnr LTD GRIMSHAW Lux Innovation
Simon-Christiansen & Associates
Department: Sch of Engineering
Organisation: Cardiff University
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 June 2020 Ends: 22 December 2023 Value (£): 638,567
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Artificial Intelligence Building Ops & Management
Information & Knowledge Mgmt
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
04 Feb 2020 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 4 and 5 February 2020 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Our vision is that humans can attenuate and control positively the impact of their buildings on the environment and mitigate the effects of climate change. This can be achieved by a new generation of life cycle assessment methods and tools that are model-based, continuously learn from real-time data, while informing effective operation and management strategies of buildings and districts.

In that respect, current LCA methods present important limitations and gaps, including:

(a) Lack of reasoning and decision support capabilities, such as exploring "what if" scenarios for the evaluation of alternative design options and devising adapted strategies, thus promoting active control of buildings and districts.

(b) Lack of alignment with domain models, e.g. BIM (Building Information Modelling), GIS (Geographical Information Systems), and LCA data structures.

(c) Lack of support of temporal information. There is a need to factor in temporal information in the life cycle inventory (LCI) and Impact Assessment (LCIA) phases to address maintenance, operation, deconstruction, disposal and recycling stages.

The proposed research addresses the challenge of leveraging digital built environment resources by using semantic web technologies to deliver life cycle assessment solutions to our built assets. Our hypothesis is that: life cycle assessment underpinned by semantics and informed by dynamic data paves the way to more accurate life cycle impact assessment while supporting life cycle decision making and active control of buildings and districts.

In a nutshell, the aim of SemanticLCA is the development of a (near) real-time semantic capability that exploits a wide range of digital data sources and leverages artificial intelligence to assess the whole-life cycle environmental impacts of built assets. The following research questions are posited:

RQ1: Can the use of semantics, including BIM (IFC) and GIS (CityGML), to integrate and contextualise existing life cycle inventory databases, provide a sound basis to streamline the life cycle assessment process of buildings and districts?

RQ2: Can access to dynamic data, managed in a BIM and GIS friendly time series database, provide more accurate accounts of environmental impacts during the construction and operation stages?

RQ3: Can the resulting SemanticLCA environment assist in decision making by non-experts by exploring a wide range of options and scenarios with the least environmental impact, while also advising on corrective plans?

Our work programme involves three Work-Packages (WP), each addressing one of our posited research questions, and a fourth cross-cutting WP addressing demonstration and validation activities.

The evaluation will be carried out in two demonstration sites: Cardiff (UK) and Belval (Luxembourg). The Cardiff demonstration will be carried out in the Queen's building (School of Engineering) and scaled up to the 130 buildings owned and managed by Cardiff university, majority of which are located in the city centre. The LIST demonstration will be carried out in the Maison de l'Innovation in Belval and scaled up to the entire district of Belval (managed by Fonds Belval). Given the complexity of LCA at district level, validation will utilise a simulation based approach with a subset of use cases demonstrated and validated in real operation conditions. The validation work will leverage ongoing developments of city platforms for Cardiff and Belval, as illustrated on the CUSP website: www.cuspplatform.com.

SemanticLCA is supported by 10 partners and an experienced team of investigators from Cardiff University and LIST bringing together complementary expertise in: a) AI applications in the built environment, b) semantic contextualisation of multi-scale built environment data, c) intelligent cloud/edge computing, d) Life cycle assessment methods and tools, e) Building Information Modelling for asset modelling and energy efficiency.
Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.cf.ac.uk