True or false? “A zero-carbon built environment means that no fossil fuels are used in the operation of buildings and infrastructure.” False, because this leaves out the embodied carbon emissions of building, maintaining and dismantling the built environment. But how would we know?
A whopping 40 per cent of all of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to the built environment and there is increasing political consensus and will to reduce this liability swiftly.
“Zero-carbon” or “carbon-neutral” announcements for anything from buildings to cities are in vogue. But almost half of this 40 per cent figure are not even included in the discussion because they are indirect emissions, “hidden” in the supply chain of making buildings.
Our new research shows that 90 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions are emitted annually in constructing new buildings and infrastructure and maintaining the existing ones. This is almost a fifth of all of our annual emissions and of a similar magnitude to operational emissions from our buildings that account for 127 Mt CO2e a year.
Reducing this liability of “embodied” emissions will be much harder than building zero-carbon buildings. Here is why.
A rapid review on green-rated office buildings, and their operational energy use, found that the conclusions of six studies ranged from the certified buildings performing worse, similarly or much better than the non-certified buildings in terms of energy usage intensity. Two...Read more
In response to feedback, high-income households can reduce their energy use to a larger degree than low-income households (17% vs 3% reduction). This and other insights were gained by two rapid reviews into research, both Australian and International, on digital services and...Read more
Industry misconceptions around high cost and poor market interest in energy efficient homes continue to obstruct the mass adoption of low carbon housing. Josh’s House demonstrates that low carbon housing is accessible and cost effective. The Star Performers series showcases how...Read more
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.
The Integrated Carbon Metrics (ICM) Embodied Carbon Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) Database (ICM Database) provides Australian-specific Carbon Footprint Intensities for around 700 construction and building materials, as well as built environment-related products and processes, based on a hybrid life cycle assessment methodology.
This chapter aims to update the knowledge on the building sector since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) from a mitigation perspective. Buildings and activities in buildings are responsible for a significant share of GHG emissions, but they are also the key to mitigation strategies.