One of the new trends in the building construction industry is designing for environmental-friendly buildings, a.k.a. Green Buildings. Planners and designers are therefore trying to accommodate these new environmental practices into existing design criteria. Selection of building materials is one of the key decisions need to be made by building designers. However, due to the strong influence of costs on the building industry, making material-selection decisions solely based on their environmental impacts could be both inadequate and impractical. These factors therefore complicate the building design process, especially pertaining to material selection.
Accordingly, the present study is aimed at providing much needed support to the decision-making process of residential building design. To this end, the study evaluates and analyzes the environmental and cost impacts of several building assemblies and material alternatives for the building exterior walls. The Technique of Order Preference Similar to Ideal Solution (TOPSIS) is used to evaluate and rank different material alternatives used in walls based on their environmental impacts. In addition, the environmental data used in this study were extracted from commonly used databases that considered the lifecycle impacts of different residential building materials and assemblies. The environmental and cost impacts of several exterior wall assemblies are then aggregated for different building material alternatives to allow for an objective comparison of these assemblies and facilitate proper building design decision- making. The study results show that wood and exterior insulation finishing system (EIFS) provided the best environmental performance of wall structural and wall finishing materials, respectively. This research is expected to prove useful in supporting building design decision- making. In addition, this research can improve pre-construction estimation and support screening of building materials.