Use of Digital Analysis Methods in Determination of Embodied Carbon of Buildings in the UK

Abstract

 The built environment sector has a key contribution towardsglobal carbonemissions but also holds a huge potential for reducing itsenvironmentalimpact. With the world's focus on sustainability and achievingnet-zero carbonemissions, it is crucial to make consistent efforts to lowercarbon emissionsfrom the built industry. The carbon footprint of a building ismainly the sumof both operational and embodied carbon emissions throughout itslife cycle.The substantial progress in reducing operational carbon emissionshas nowshifted the emphasis toward embodied emissions. Life Cycle Assessment(LCA) isa remarkable innovation in the environmental impact assessment of thebuilt environment,allowing the user to perform whole-life carbon assessment andembodied carbonassessment. This study provides a detailed review of the LCAstandards andprotocols, methodologies, digital tools, and databases availablein the UK. Italso explores the challenges associated with the utilization ofdigital toolsin the building sector. This study evaluates the whole-lifeembodied carbon ofa case study educational building, considering the productphase (A1-A3),construction phase (A4-A5), use phase (B4), and the end-of-lifephase (C1-C4). Themost popular manual approach using the Inventory of Carbonand Energy (ICE)database, the Institute of Structural Engineers (IStructE), andthe RoyalInstitute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) guidelines are utilized fortheevaluation of the embodied impact of the building. The study demonstratedthatthe product stage (A1-A3) has the highest share among other life cyclestages inthe embodied carbon of the buildings. It consists of around 82% oftotalembodied carbon, whereas the rest is shared between other life cyclestages.This study also explores the reliability of embodied impact assessmentof oneof the most popular digital LCA tools, One Click LCA. In this study, OneClickLCA is utilized for the evaluation of embodied carbon of the productstage(A1-A3) of the same case study building. It is found that the traditionalmethodusing the ICE database overestimated the embodied carbon from A1-A3stages by30.9% when compared to One Click LCA. The embodied carbon from stagesA1-A3 ofthe case study building accounted for 1426.234 tCO₂e for the ICEdatabase and984.48 tCO₂e for One Click LCA. Due to the use of EPDs by OneClick LCA, thetool exhibits reliability in the embodied carbon evaluation ofthe case studybuilding. However, some of the challenges relating to theunavailability ofregion-specific data and lack of regular updates in availableEPDs stillunderlies within the tool.

Keywords

Embodied Carbon, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Digital tools, ICE, One Click LCA

How to Cite

Chaudhary, D., Bahadori-Jahromi, A. & Keyhani, M., (2023) “Use of Digital Analysis Methods in Determination of Embodied Carbon of Buildings in the UK”, Engineering Future Sustainability 1(2). doi: https://doi.org/10.36828/efs.236

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Authors

Deepa Chaudhary (University of West London)
Ali Bahadori-Jahromi (University of West London)
Maryam Keyhani (The University of West London)

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0

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This article has been peer reviewed.

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