Carbon dioxide emissions of office buildings in Scotland : life-cycle assesment of new-build offices
Khasreen, Mohamad Monkiz
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In the context of the global trend towards reducing the carbon footprint of buildings, the design team must make decisions, which have major consequences on the carbon footprint. This should be during the early stages of the building design process, as changes made later on can be costly. Although Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) is the ‘gold standard’ method to evaluate the design from 'cradle to grave'. The lack of detail available on the concept design makes LCA very difficult if not impossible. Unfortunately, this is the very stage at which decisions are made that have a most significant influence on the life cycle. In order to support designers, a database of LCA case studies data is needed, accessible to designers and decision makers, and giving guidance on specific areas of significant impact, on which they can concentrate to reduce the building’s total impact. The work in this thesis sets out to address this need. This thesis presents life-cycle case studies of two new-build offices in Scotland that could be used as guidance during the concept stage of the design process. This is achieved by modelling the carbon emissions of different life-cycle stages, and different building materials and components used in building activities. The hypothesis that the current trend of office building in Scotland produces buildings which are relatively lower in their emissions than those reported in the literature is tested by a full life-cycle assessment of two new-build offices in Edinburgh. Scenario and sensitivity analysis is used to assess the future of office buildings in Scotland. The carbon dioxide emissions of the two case study buildings, when normalised according to floor area, are similar and lie towards the lower end of the range of worldwide data reported in the literature. Sensitivity analysis shows that the life cycle results are affected by changes in design parameters, and are highly sensitive to the assumptions about the future made at the design stage, such as future changes in electricity generation over time, refurbishment and recycling. Large savings in carbon dioxide emissions can result from small changes at the design stage, such as glazing ratios and the provision of parking. Some of these are fields for future research and development.