An analysis of embodied energy and embodied carbon in conventional and in certified green buildings through case studies in the UK
D'Olier Street, O'Connell Bridge, D'Olier Street, Mansion House A ED, Dublin, County Dublin, Leinster, D02 F243, Ireland
A dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the degree of MArch, 2021-22
This research uses 6 case studies of buildings in the UK, 3 of which are conventional and 3 have achieved green certification, which include BREEAM, Passivhaus and Code for Sustainable Homes in an attempt to determine whether the material selection in green certified buildings causes higher embodied energy.
Recent research suggests that green certification schemes do not put enough emphasis on embodied energy, as opposed to operational energy, and that the pursuit of lowering operational energy in green buildings may lead to increased embodied energy.
In order to analyse the case studies, the embodied energy of each of them was calculated using available data on the materials in BCIS, as well as life cycle analysis softwares and embodied energy coefficients, and then the results for each case study were compared to each other to discover what causes increased embodied energy and embodied carbon in them. The study goes into detail on the results of the calculations by analysing which elements of the buildings hold the most embodied energy and embodied carbon and takes consideration of both initial construction materials as well as the replacement and maintenance needed for them throughout the buildings’ lifetimes.
The results of the study support the idea that buildings that aim to lower their operational energy demand tend to have higher embodied energy due to the selection of materials in their design. However, it is also shown that it is possible to achieve low embodied energy as well as low operational energy if the choices of construction materials are considered early in the design process. Additionally, it is shown that green certification schemes that award a significant amount of credits to factors that influence embodied energy and embodied carbon play an important role in incentivising architects to aim to design buildings which take into consideration both operational and embodied energy and in helping them to