The built environment is recognised as one of the largest contributors to climate change in the UK, the sector being responsible for around 40% of CO2 emissions. To achieve truly low-carbon homes, it is not enough to simply increase the efficiency of the housing stock. We must measure, record and reduce the emissions from the full lifecycle of the building work involved, to include the embodied emissions from the materials, transportation, construction and end of life. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a well-established methodology for quantifying whole-life carbon, and these principals have been adapted for the construction industry in the RICS professional standard ‘Whole-life Carbon Assessment for the Built Environment’. In this study, Whole-life Carbon Assessment has been applied to 15 residential construction case studies. In each case, traditional construction methods (masonry) have been compared to a sustainable build system model (timber frame with low U-value construction). It was found that whole life carbon could be reduced by up 78% by selecting a sustainable construction method.
Isabelle is an MRes student in Chemical Engineering under the supervision of Prof Steve Wilkinson and Dr Mayo Osundeko.