Building life cycle refers to the view of a building over the course of its entire life - in other words, viewing it not just as an operational building, but also taking into account the design, installation, commissioning, operation and decommissioning phases. It is useful to use this view when attempting to improve an operational feature of a building that is related to how a building was designed. For example, overall energy conservation. In the vast majority of cases there is less than sufficient effort put into designing a building to be energy efficient and hence large inefficiencies are incurred in the operational phase. Current research is ongoing in exploring methods of incorporating a whole life cycle view of buildings, rather than just focusing on the operational phase as is the current situation.

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