Life-cycle cost analysis provides a process by which owners and designers can closely evaluate both short and long term costs of a project to determine the most appropriate direction to proceed ( i.e. material selection, HVAC consideration, etc.). Sometimes, when an owner embarks on a project, they already know that they don't intend to hang on to the building long term. In this case, the goal is to construct the structure in the most cost effective manner possible with limited concern for the future. Other times, owners enter into a project knowing it’s a long term investment that will be expected to perform for decades into the future.
Using the technique of life cycle cost analysis offers owners and designers a window into how the planned project is going to perform and the expected on-going costs over time. Almost always, buildings that are constructed to perform well into the future will cost more upfront. The overall quality is higher and that quality translates into an increased price tag. However, most times over the lifespan or life cycle of the building, the savings that is realized through such things as improved energy efficiency and reduced maintenance costs makes up for the difference of building with lesser quality materials.
Precast concrete is a strong performer when it comes to long term performance and reduced life cycle costs for the following reasons:
Thermal mass: concrete forms the structure and creates a thermal barrier
Initial HVAC system installation can be scaled back
Reduced overall energy consumption (both heating and cooling)
Multi-hazard protections (fire containment, blast resistance, mold resistance)
Higher resale value
Improved insurance rates
Less overall maintenance (higher durability = less costly repairs)
Precast concrete a material well suited for projects expected to stand the test of time. Time and time again, life cycle cost analysis shows that the upfront construction costs associated with precast concrete structures “pays for itself” over time. To learn more, visit www.pci.org
Whole Building Design Guide by Sieglinde Fuller, NIST, 9/19/2016