Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Niall P. Dunphy and Aveen M Henry
Corporate Responsibility Research Conference 2012
Exploration and Communication of Lifecycle Carbon Implications of Building Energy Retrofits
Bordeaux, France
Oral Presentation
Optional Fields

The whole-life carbon emissions footprint has developed as an important eco-indicator for the built environment quantifying the greenhouse gas emissions associated with a building. It collates and communicates ‘carbon’ emissions arising across its lifecycle including in the management of the project, in the manufacture and supply of materials, construction and commissioning of a building, arising from energy consumption during the use phase, from maintenance / renovation; and from end of life activities. Increasingly, whole-life carbon is being used as an evaluation metric for building energy retrofit projects, estimating the net climate impact of intervention options.

However whole-life carbon studies are not without weaknesses, lack of standardisation means that they are rarely comparable. Additionally, they are often weakened by unclear assumptions; arbitrary boundary setting; variable data quality; indifference to temporal issues; and poor communication of results.

This paper examines current whole life carbon footprinting practice, drawing on a number of examples to critique and explore an improved use of this metric. It concludes that a standardized methodology is important in furthering the utility of whole-life carbon determination. But moreover discusses how the value of the whole-life carbon metric lies beyond the mere quantification of CO2-eq as a single datum. Rather its real value lies in the contextualization and exploration of results including: critiquing the process; conducting a sensitivity analysis with respect to key assumptions, datasets, etc.; presenting different scenarios while above all communicating potential shortcomings in knowledge. 

Private Donation