Scenario analysis of embodied greenhouse gas emissions in UK construction

Giesekam, Jannik and Barrett, John and Taylor, Peter (2018) Scenario analysis of embodied greenhouse gas emissions in UK construction. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers: Engineering Sustainability, 171 (4). pp. 178-190. ISSN 1478-4629 (

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Motivated by national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions budgets, the UK construction industry is pursuing reductions in emissions embodied in buildings and infrastructure. The current embodied GHG emissions benchmarks allow design teams to make a relative comparison between buildings and infrastructure but are not linked to sector or national GHG emissions reduction targets. This paper describes a novel model that links sector-level embodied GHG emissions estimates with project calculations. This provides a framework to consistently translate international, national and sector reduction targets into project targets. The required level of long-term GHG emissions reduction from improvements in building design and material manufacture is heavily dependent on external factors that the industry does not control, such as demand for new stock and the rate of electrical grid 'decarbonisation'. A scenario analysis using the model suggests that, even if external factors progress along the better end of UK government projections, current practices will be insufficient to meet sector targets.