As global population and urbanization increase, so do the direct and indirect environmental impacts of construction around the world. Low-impact products, buildings, precincts and cities are needed to mitigate the effects of building construction and use. Analysis of embodied energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across these scales is becoming more important to support this direction.
As part of the Integrated Carbon Metrics project, which comprehensively quantifies embodied GHG emissions related to the built environment in Australia, this contribution evaluates construction material replacement scenarios at the economy-wide scale.
One third of global greenhouse gas emissions are emitted from the building sector contributing significantly to the problem of climate change. While more work has been done on decreasing direct emissions from the operation of buildings, embodied emissions of construction materials receive little consideration even though they constitute a significant additional proportion of emissions.
New research shows that 90 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions are emitted annually in constructing new buildings and infrastructure and maintaining the existing ones. Reducing this liability of “embodied” emissions will be much harder than building zero-carbon buildings. Here is why.