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Towards a holistic modelling framework for embodied carbon and waste in the building lifecycle

By J.H.M. Tah, W. Zhou, F.H. Abanda and F.K.T. Cheung


As the building industry proceeds in the direction of low impact buildings, research attention is being drawn towards the reduction of carbon dioxide emission and waste. Starting from design and construction to operation and demolition, various building materials are used throughout the whole building lifecycle involving significant energy consumption and waste generation. Building Information Modelling (BIM) is emerging as a tool that can support holistic design-decision making for reducing embodied carbon and waste production in the building lifecycle. This study aims to establish a framework for assessing embodied carbon and waste underpinned by BIM technology. On the basis of current research review, the framework is considered to include functional modules for embodied carbon computation. There are a module for waste estimation, a knowledge-base of construction and demolition methods, a repository of building components information, and an inventory of construction materials’ energy and carbon. Through both static 3D model visualisation and dynamic modelling supported by the framework, embodied energy (carbon), waste and associated costs can be analysed in the boundary of cradle-to-gate, construction, operation, and demolition. The proposed holistic modelling framework provides a possibility to analyse embodied carbon and waste from different building lifecycle perspectives including associated costs. It brings together existing segmented embodied carbon and waste estimation into a unified model, so that interactions between various parameters through the different building lifecycle phases can be better understood. Thus, it can improve design-decision support for optimal low impact building development. The applicability of this framework is anticipated being developed and tested on industrial projects in the near future

Publisher: University of Nottingham
Year: 2010
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