Decarbonization potentials of the embodied energy use and operational process in buildings: A review from the life-cycle perspective

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Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
A2 Katsausartikkeli tieteellisessä aikakauslehdessä
Date
2023-10
Major/Subject
Mcode
Degree programme
Language
en
Pages
21
Series
Heliyon, Volume 9, issue 10
Abstract
Accounting for one third of global energy-related carbon emissions, the construction and operation of buildings are crucial for mitigating climate change. Decarbonization potentials of embodied and operational energy use in buildings are worth exploring from a life-cycle perspective. This paper focuses on the individual building level and collects the latest cases, to offer a comprehensive and timely understanding of the assessment and reduction of building life cycle carbon emissions (LCCEs). As for the collected cases, the operational process accounts for the largest share of building LCCEs, averaging 67%, followed by the production and construction phase, averaging 31%. Carbon emissions from the demolition process are relatively low, averaging 2%. The most commonly used method for assessing LCCEs is process-based, combining the activity level and carbon emission factors. Advanced technologies such as building information modelling and building performance simulation have been employed in recent years to assess embodied and operational carbon emissions effectively. Different approaches are proposed for the decarbonization of each stage in the building life cycle. In the production stage, the effective approaches could be optimizing the building structure, improving the material performance, and using bio-based materials, etc. Prefabrication technology is helpful to decarbonize the construction process. Energy conservation and electrification, renewable energy integration, and smart energy management can effectively reduce the building's operational carbon emissions. Beyond the life cycle, recycling waste materials is proven to have great environmental benefits. Further studies are suggested to trade off the embodied and operational carbon, to fully explore building life-cycle decarbonization potentials.
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Keywords
Buildings, life cycle assessment, decarbonization, embodied carbon, Operational carbon
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Citation
Liang, Y, Li, C, Liu, Z, Wang, X, Zeng, F, Yuan, X & Pan, Y 2023, ' Decarbonization potentials of the embodied energy use and operational process in buildings: A review from the life-cycle perspective ', Heliyon, vol. 9, no. 10, e20190 . https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heliyon.2023.e20190