The Life Cycle Lab at UW’s College of Built Environments leads research to advance life cycle assessment (LCA) data, methods and approaches to enable optimization of materials, buildings and infrastructure.  Our  work is structured to inform impactful policies and practices that support global decarbonization efforts. We envision a transformed, decarbonized building industry – better buildings for a better planet.

Our group is led by Professor Kate Simonen. Since arriving at UW in 2009, she has conducted research and spearheaded initiatives focused on accelerating the transformation of the building sector to radically reduce the greenhouse gas emissions attributed to materials (also known as embodied carbon) used in buildings and infrastructure. From June 2010 until April 2024 she directed the Carbon Leadership Forum (CLF) as it was hosted in UW’s College of Built Environments. The core of CLF’s work has been to lay essential foundations for understanding embodied carbon: a framework for comprehensive strategy, rigorous analysis, and transparent reporting that can support design tools, effective policy, and collective action.


Life Cycle Circle: info graphics of life cycle stages from cradle to grave encircling graphic of earth.

In April 2024, two new entities were created to expand the program’s influence and impact: the Carbon Leadership Forum launched as an independent nonprofit organization and the newly named Life Cycle Lab was created to support the next generation of researchers and pursue critical embodied carbon research with an increased focus on academic publications. Learn more about this transition via this announcement.

UW’s Life Cycle Lab is focused on supporting the next generation of researchers and pursuing critical research to advance life cycle assessment (LCA) data, methods and approaches. The research that we pursue aims to fill challenging knowledge gaps in order to inform impactful policies that support the integration of life cycle thinking, LCA findings and decarbonization strategies to implement into practice today. Lab members include professional research staff, research assistants, students advised by Prof. Simonen, undergraduate interns and student assistants. Many of our members are formally affiliated with the Carbon Leadership Forum and the two organizations continue to actively collaborate developing strategies and executing aligned initiatives.