Case Study on the Whole Life Carbon Cycle in Buildings

Howard J. Darby
Technologies for Sustainable Built Environments, University of Reading, Reading, UK

Abbas A. Elmualim
School of Construction Management and Engineering, University of Reading, Reading, UK

Fergal Kelly
Peter Brett Associates LLP, Reading, UK

Ladda ner artikelhttp://dx.doi.org/10.3384/ecp110571781

Ingår i: World Renewable Energy Congress - Sweden; 8-13 May; 2011; Linköping; Sweden

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 57:6, s. 1781-1788

Visa mer +

Publicerad: 2011-11-03

ISBN: 978-91-7393-070-3

ISSN: 1650-3686 (tryckt), 1650-3740 (online)


The potential for reducing greenhouse gas emission from buildings comes from both operational and embodied emissions. To date the focus has been on reducing the operational element; although; it is suggested that it is also important to consider early embodied carbon reductions.

This paper describes a case study on the whole life carbon cycle of a building in the UK. Specific issues addressed are the relationship between embodied carbon (Ec) and operational carbon (Oc); the proportions of Ec from the structural and non-structural elements; carbon benchmarking of the structure; the value of ‘cradle to site’ or ‘cradle to grave’ assessments and the significance of the timing of emissions during the life of the building.

The case study indicates that Ec can be an important consideration and that the structure was responsible for more than half of the Ec.

An indicative structural benchmark for the building is between 260kgCO2/m2 and 286kgCO2/m2.

Weighting of future emissions appears to be an important factor to consider. The PAS 2050 reduction factors had only a modest effect but weighting to allow for future decarbonisation of the energy supply had a large effect.


Embodied carbon; Carbon emission; Building; Operational carbon; CO<sub>2</sub>


[1] www.bsigroup.com/Standards-and-Publications/Committee-Members/Construction-committee-members-area/M350-Standards/?id=158921 (consulted May 2010).

[2] British Standards Institution; ”Publicly Available Specification PAS 2050:2008: Specification for the assessment of the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of goods and services”; BSI; 2008.

[3] British Standards Institution; ”BS EN ISO 14040:2006: Environmental management – Life cycle assessment – Principles and framework”; BSI; 2006.

[4] World Resources Institute (WRI) and World Business Council for Sustainable Development; “The Greenhouse Gas Protocol; A Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard; revised edition”; WRI&WBCSD; 2004.

[5] TRADA Technology Limited; “Construction briefings: PAS 2050: A Summary of the Standard and its Background”; TTL; 2009.

[6] G. Hammond; C. Jones; “Inventory of Carbon & Energy (ICE) Version 1.6a”; University of Bath; 2008.

[7] H. Darby; “The Carbon Life Cycle of Buildings: A Review of the Current UK Carbon Emissions Reduction Strategy for Buildings”; TSBE; University of Reading; 2010.

[8] www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/stern_review_report.htm “Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change (2006)” (consulted 20/05/10).

[9] Solomon; S.; D. Qin; M. Manning; Z. Chen; M. Marquis; K.B. Averyt; M. Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.); “Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; 2007”; Cambridge University Press; 2007.

[10] Department of Energy and Climate Change; “Analytical Annex The UK Low Carbon Transition Plan”; DECC; 2009.

[11] Granta Design (software); “CES Selector 2010”. Granta Design; 2010.

[12] Environment Agency (software); “Carbon Calculator; version 3.1.1”; 2009.

[13] Hutchins; “UK Building Blackbook; The Capital Cost and Embodied CO2 Guide; Volume Two: Major Works”; Franklin and Andrews; 2010.

[14] J. Anderson; D. Shiers; K. Steele; “The Green Guide to Specification; Fourth Edition”; BRE; 2009.

[15] World Steel Association; “LCI Data for Steel Products” WSA; 2010.

[16] TRADA Technology Limited; “Construction Briefings: Timber carbon footprints”; TTL; 2009

[17] BRE (software); “Envest; Environmental Impact and Whole Life Costs for Buildings”; BRE; 2009.

[18] The Concrete Centre; “Concrete Structures 10”; The Concrete Centre 2010.

[19] Department of Energy and Climate Change; ”Guidelines to Defra / DECC’s Greenhouse Gas Conversion Factors for Company Reporting”; DEC; 2010.

Citeringar i Crossref