Built environment

Cities are facing enormous responsibilities over the next decades. As key contributors, they need to find answers to mitigate climate change fast, but at the same time maintain a high quality of life for their citizens. The built environment plays a major role: Buildings and infrastructure serve as the very basis of liveable cities. But they also cause a significant amount of carbon emissions and other environmental damages through use of non-renewable resources.

With our research, we contribute to realising low carbon pathways for the built environment. We use various forms of life cycle assessment to quantify carbon emissions. Energy efficient building is often solely focused on the operational phase. We, on the other hand, shift the perspective towards the integration of the emissions embodied in building materials in order to gain a holistic view.built enviro

We have expertise on multiple levels of the built environment:

  • We develop methods to investigate the carbon emissions embodied in building materials. With hybrid input-output techniques, we generate life cycle inventory data specific to Australia, which can be added to established databases. We also visualise the carbon emissions embedded in the production and supply chain of these materials.
  • What would happen if Australian buildings were constructed with different types of materials? We look at material replacement scenarios on a national scale and determine the potential of reduced carbon emissions.
  • On the city level, we go one step further by not only considering the built environment, but by quantifying the whole carbon flows in and out from a city, depicted on city carbon maps.

Integrated Carbon Metrics - A Multi-Scale Life Cycle Approach to Assessing, Mapping and Tracking Carbon Outcomes for the Built Environment

  • Funder: CRC for Low Carbon LivingICM
  • Duration: 2014-ongoing
  • Description: The Integrated Carbon Metrics project quantifies the carbon emissions for the various processes in our urban environment. This includes both the direct as well as the indirect or 'hidden' carbon emissions ranging from the production of building materials to the design and construction of whole precincts. The project develops metrics and decision support tools for building designers, manufacturers, planners and developers. A database of embodied carbon life cycle inventory data for building products and materials is the fundamental component of all project outputs.
  • Project partners: UNSW Australia, University of Melbourne, University of South Australia, AECOM, Aurecon, BlueScope

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