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Time valued life cycle greenhouse gas emissions from buildings

Darby, H., Elmualim, A. A. and Kelly, F. (2013) Time valued life cycle greenhouse gas emissions from buildings. In: SB Graz 13: Sustainable Buildings Construction Products and Technologies, 26-28 September 2013, Graz University of Technology, Austria.. (ISBN 9783851253016)

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Abstract/Summary

The UK has adopted legally binding carbon reduction targets of 34% by 2020 and 80% by 2050 (measured against the 1990 baseline). Buildings are estimated to be responsible for more than 50% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the UK. These consist of both operational, produced during use, and embodied, produced during manufacture of materials and components, and during construction, refurbishments and demolition. A brief assessment suggests that it is unlikely that UK emission reduction targets can be met without substantial reductions in both Oc and Ec. Oc occurs over the lifetime of a building whereas the bulk of Ec occurs at the start of a building’s life. A time value for emissions could influence the decision making process when it comes to comparing mitigation measures which have benefits that occur at different times. An example might be the choice between building construction using low Ec construction materials versus building construction using high Ec construction materials but with lower Oc, although the use of high Ec materials does not necessarily imply a lower Oc. Particular time related issues examined here are: the urgency of the need to achieve large emissions reductions during the next 10 to 20 years; the earlier effective action is taken, the less costly it will be; future reduction in carbon intensity of energy supply; the carbon cycle and relationship between the release of GHG’s and their subsequent concentrations in the atmosphere. An equation is proposed, which weights emissions according to when they occur during the building life cycle, and which effectively increases Ec as a proportion of the total, suggesting that reducing Ec is likely to be more beneficial, in terms of climate change, for most new buildings. Thus, giving higher priority to Ec reductions is likely to result in a bigger positive impact on climate change and mitigation costs.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of the Built Environment > Construction Management and Engineering > Transition Pathways to a Low-Carbon Economy
ID Code:34863

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