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The contribution to UK climate mitigation targets from reducing embodied carbon in the construction sector

Giesekam, Jannik James (2016) The contribution to UK climate mitigation targets from reducing embodied carbon in the construction sector. Integrated PhD and Master thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

The UK construction industry faces the daunting task of expanding output whilst achieving substantial greenhouse gas emission reductions. Recent building life cycle assessments show that embodied carbon constitutes a growing proportion of whole life emissions. However, the precise distribution of embodied carbon along sector supply chains; the range of mitigation options available to practitioners and the potential policy responses have received little attention. This thesis addresses a number of these outstanding issues. The thesis commences with an analysis of the distribution of emissions along construction sector supply chains using Multi-Region Input Output modelling. The results of this analysis are combined with a large database of building carbon assessments to form a hybrid UK Buildings and Infrastructure Embodied Carbon model. This novel combination of bottom up project data and top down sector data provides a much needed link between sector carbon mitigation targets and project carbon intensity targets. A scenario analysis using the model suggests that, if external factors progress within the range of Government projections, current practices will be insufficient to meet sector targets. Therefore additional embodied carbon mitigation strategies must be implemented. One such mitigation strategy is increasing the use of alternative building materials with lower embodied carbon. This thesis presents a comprehensive overview of the barriers to uptake, based upon a literature review, survey of construction professionals and interviews with industry leaders. This research highlights the current lack of drivers for embodied carbon assessment and mitigation. In response, the thesis presents possible policy responses and industry led actions as a series of dynamic adaptive policy pathways developed through a participatory approach with key stakeholders. Collectively this thesis depicts the sizeable contribution embodied carbon abatement could make to the achievement of long-term UK climate mitigation targets and the interim response required from industry practitioners, institutions and policy makers.

Item Type: Thesis (Integrated PhD and Master)
Keywords: Embodied carbon; construction; climate change; climate mitigation
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Engineering (Leeds) > School of Chemical and Process Engineering (Leeds)
Depositing User: Dr Jannik James Giesekam
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2016 14:42
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2016 14:42
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/15279

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