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Life cycle carbon impact of higher education building redevelopment

Hawkins, DP; (2016) Life cycle carbon impact of higher education building redevelopment. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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UK higher education institutions have strong drivers to reduce operational carbon emissions through building refurbishment or replacement. Given their varying nature, determining carbon reductions can be challenging. There is developing interest in the life cycle carbon impact of buildings - operational carbon emissions plus material embodied carbon emissions - particularly in redevelopment where possible operational carbon savings may be offset by new materials. Key questions emerged: what are the main determinants of energy use in higher education buildings; to what extent do redevelopment options have the potential to reduce operational carbon impact; how do embodied and operational carbon impacts compare for different redevelopment options? The following studies were carried out accordingly: development of a database of 1,950 university buildings incorporating high-level building parameters and end energy use; analysis of the database using statistical and artificial neural network methods; investigations on five case studies to model the life cycle carbon impact of building redevelopment using real data; modelling redevelopment of six university building archetypes using the database and case study data. A visualisation was also developed to aid estates managers and designers by grading existing building performance and demonstrating the potential carbon reductions of redevelopment scenarios. In the database analysis, it was found that energy use varied significantly by primary activity and that electricity use was often significantly lower for naturally-ventilated buildings relative to mechanically-ventilated. Older buildings tended to exhibit higher heating fuel use but lower electricity use. Some relationships between energy use and research activity and context were also observed. The artificial neural network approach wassuccessful in terms of generalisation performance and showed potential for use in scoping carbon reduction interventions after further development. From the archetype analysis, it was found that the difference between building refurbishment and new-build on carbon impact can be small and it is influenced by the degree of energy management. Furthermore, in certain cases larger carbon reductions may be achieved for conversion to natural ventilation. On average, embodied carbon was found to be 10-25% of the total life cycle carbon impact for higher education new-build and in certain cases it was deemed to have the potential to influence an associated redevelopment decision. A higher education carbon management strategy was developed accordingly with recommendations made on grading the energy performance of existing buildings to assess redevelopment potential, planning appropriate carbon reduction interventions to meet carbon targets and implementing redevelopment schemes.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Life cycle carbon impact of higher education building redevelopment
Event: UCL
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: higher education, university, life cycle, embodied, carbon, redevelopment, refurbishment, new-build, archetype, benchmark, operational
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1476355
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