CARBON FOOTPRINT LIMITS FOR COMMON
Some Finnish buildings could cut their carbon footprints by as much as 43% – according to research we conducted for the Finnish government – and almost all could make a saving of 28% using easily available decarbonisation strategies.
How do you set realistic decarbonisation targets for buildings? That’s what the Finnish Ministry of the Environment asked us recently. Our report is available to download here and on the Finnish government website, we’ve summarised our key findings for you below.
We established a baseline or reference carbon footprint for five standard Finnish building types: apartment, school, service, office and commercial. Taking into account average energy consumption and construction materials carbon impacts.
We collected and analysed 482 actual Finnish project construction materials carbon footprints. Most of these projects were residential, school or office buildings. A further 3748 energy certificates for new buildings built since 2018 were analysed to establish average energy consumption per targeted building type. This provided a solid statistical basis for the average construction materials and energy carbon footprints for buildings.
|PRIOR TO USE|
|A1-A3 Product manufacture||282||259||282||255||215|
|A4 Transportation to site||10,2||10,2||10,2||10,2||10,2|
|B6 Operational energy use||321||273||601||347||330|
- Using a ground source heat pump for the entire heat and cooling supply
- Achieving energy class A
- Using low-carbon concrete
- Using a stud frame timber structure
- Using CLT (cross laminated timber) structure
We discovered that with these measures in place, every building type could achieve a carbon footprint reduction of up to 28 % compared to the reference building level.
This project considered a number of sensitivity analysis scenarios, some of which could be imposed on certain projects based on local zoning regulations. These included brick cladding, cast-in-place concrete, balconies and other scenarios. The zoning-dependent scenarios considered increased the relevant building carbon footprint by 6-13 %, depending on the building type, and all scenarios increased the results by 11-22 %.
Note that we did not include foundations or parking scenarios in the scope of the assessment as their requirements vary very strongly based on the site, so these scenarios can only be considered indicative. The impact of unfavourable foundation and parking scenarios was an increase of between 12 and 20 % in the building carbon footprint, but the impact of low carbon concrete as a decarbonisation measure is much higher if the foundations are included.
|Maximum decarbonisation identified||36 %||30 %||43 %||34 %||28 %|
|Low-carbon concrete & ground heat pump||28 %||20 %||36 %||27 %||19 %|
|Low-carbon concrete & A energy class||18 %||18 %||–||13 %||22 %|
This report only looked at a limited number of decarbonisation measures : but there are many more available. One effective measure would be sourcing low carbon products for all categories, not just concrete. Materials-efficient design and materials-use optimisation provide further potential for cost and carbon reductions.
We concluded that a 20-30 % decarbonisation target would be an achievable yet meaningful goal. Allowing every building type to use the right materials and energy solutions for their needs, whilst making much-needed carbon reductions.
Read the full report on the Finnish Ministry of the Environment website. NB. The report is written for a subject matter expert audience and so does not include introduction or definitions
Download the report
Available in English
About Bionova Ltd
Bionova Ltd is the developer of the One Click LCA, the world-leading construction life-cycle metrics software.
One Click LCA supports over 60 systems identified in The Embodied Carbon Review. Bionova also conducts selective leading-edge research in built environment sustainability, in particular for embodied carbon, and life cycle assessment.
Our mission is to help designers bring sustainable buildings and business within everyone’s reach. Discover guides and high-impact research to find out more.