The carbon-balancing potential of wood- or concrete structure office buildings, based on embodied and operational carbon footprint

Life Cycle Analysis

To prevent global temperatures from rising above 2°C to avoid, irreversible climate change, global anthropogenic emissions must be reduced, and fossil fuels must be phased out as soon as possible. The built environment accounts for a major share of carbon emissions. This can be attributed to both building operations and building construction. So far, a lot of effort and studies have been done to address consumption for building operation. Since not many studies have a holistic view of the lifecycle in total combining construction and operation phases, this paper addresses this question. This study evaluates the embodied carbon over the full life cycle of a typical office building in Germany. For determining the building configuration with the least impact, permutations and combinations of the typologies along with factors like construction material choice between wooden construction or concrete and the number of floors of the building were considered. Further variations are ventilation strategies, energy supply strategies, along with considerations for decarbonization of the public electricity grid. For the study, embodied carbon in construction, carbon emissions during the operation phase including emissions from the user-related energy demands have been considered with a focus on balancing the carbon emission through on-site renewable energy production.

Keywords: Embodied carbon, carbon neutrality, carbon-neutral, life cycle, life cycle analysis, LCA, operational carbon, wood vs concrete, on-site energy, production, embodied carbon office, construction carbon.

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Mentors: Markus Krauss, Daniel Kiehlmann, Alice Chevrier

Ketan Avhad – India

Ketan Avhad – India

Ketan did his Bachelor of Architecture at the Aayojan School of Architecture & Design in Pune, India. He gathered his last work experience at the office of Anupama Kundoo Architects in Auroville.