To Build or Not to Build……?

Demolishing old, energy-hungry buildings is now being widely considered as a mistake due to the amount of CO2 that is emitted during the construction of new buildings. Much of the released carbon dioxide is made up from embodied emissions that are produced from the creation and transportation of building materials. The amount of carbon emitted from residential developments and can be upwards of 50% of the total lifecycle emissions before the homes are even occupied.

This comes at a time where carbon emissions need to be reduced sharply and therefore, a change of mindset that leans away from demolishing older buildings is beginning to manifest. Major areas for construction in the UK such as London and Manchester have both committed to Net- Zero Carbon targets within their emerging planning policies. These will likely not be met unless more emphasis and incentives are linked to the refurbishment of older buildings rather than demolishing and replacing.An important tool to aid in the refurbishment and new construction of buildings is a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). This science-based assessment technique analyses the impact that a development will have on the world around over its entire life cycle. An LCA takes into consideration all the steps that lead from raw material to manufactured product, including extraction of the materials, energy consumption, manufacture, transportation, use, recycling, and final disposal or end of life. This information can then be used in the early design phase to make informed decisions after identifying the building´s environmental hotspots when it comes to carbon emissions.

Here at Element, we offer Building Life Cycle Assessments as a stand-alone assessment and also as part of our BREEAM Bolt-On package in order to evaluate the impacts of the circular economy. This addresses the Material 01 credits of the BREEAM assessment to encourage measures to optimise construction product efficiency. Please contact our office and a member of our staff will be happy to provide you with further information on LCAs and other BREEAM Bolt-On services. Alternatively, visit the Consultancy section of our website to download our BREEAM Bolt-On Brochure.

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