Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Environmental Sciences and Management


Natural Resources Management


College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences


Dr. Yiwen Chiu

Advisor Department

Natural Resources Management

Advisor College

College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences


To combat the carbon emissions contributed to the atmosphere by the built environment, it is imperative that low-embodied-carbon materials choices be prioritized throughout the building design process. To achieve this, this professional project creates an Excel-based, open source, and user-friendly tool for the construction sector to make design decisions that prioritize the sustainability of structures, as one such tool does not currently exist. The use of OpenLCA software and the EcoInvent34 database are utilized to calculate the environmental impact of 25 different building materials, as well as energy and electricity consumption. Swanton Pacific Ranch (SPR) in Santa Cruz County is utilized as a case study site. This is accomplished through the comparison of two hypothetical structures to test the validity and user-friendliness of the excel-based tool, and make edits and improvements as needed based on feedback. From this process, the benefits of the tool, as well as areas for its continued improvement are discussed.