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Forum on Life-Cycle Approaches to Sustainably Manage Materials in Building and Infrastructure Projects

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its partners convened a two-and-a-half-day Forum on Life Cycle Approaches to Sustainably Manage Materials in Building and Infrastructure Projects (the Forum) on January 30 – February 1, 2018. This event was attended by over 110 participants who work across the spectrum of the built environment – policy makers, non-governmental organizations, architects and engineers, developers, builders, and waste management professionals.

Graphic showing topics covered during the Forum. Imaginary situation where car is driving on the sustainable materials highway that goes through the destinations of environmental challenges, next-life neighborhood, secondary markets, welcome to design, construction city, measuring materials, BIM and beyond, power of collaboration, action circle.

The purpose of the Forum was to:

  • Establish a common understanding of what it means to apply life-cycle approaches such as design for adaptability, recycling, and disassembly; materials reuse; and life-cycle impact analysis to sustainably manage materials in building and infrastructure projects.
  • Discuss key challenges and opportunities to expand the use of life-cycle thinking to achieve sustainable materials management (SMM) goals in the built environment – from project design and construction to end-of-life management and next-life markets.
  • Identify potential solutions and next steps for a variety of stakeholders to advance this work across the public and private sectors.

Key insights and potential actions expressed by participants during the Forum were assembled into a summary report and organized within six themes identified as critical to advancing life-cycle thinking in the built environment:

  • Collaboration and Partnerships
  • Innovation and Research
  • Life-Cycle Data and Tools
  • Telling a Better Story About Sustainable Materials Approaches
  • Enhancing Secondary Materials Markets
  • Shifting Paradigms

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Forum Resources

The Forum on Life Cycle Approaches to Sustainably Manage Materials in Building and Infrastructure Projects Summary Report provides a high-level summary of themes and potential actions that emerged based on the conversations from the Forum held January 30 – February 1, 2018 in Arlington, Virginia. The purpose of the report is to provide readers with highlights from the forum and actions that they or others could implement to address challenges in advancing SMM in the built environment.

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