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Life-cycle energy analysis of buildings: a case study

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-26, 16:03 authored by Mark FayMark Fay, Treloar, G, Iyer-Raniga, U
Energy use is a widely used measure of the environmental impact of buildings. Recent studies have highlighted the importance of both the operational and embodied energy attributable to buildings over their lifetime. The method of assessing lifetime building energy is known as life-cycle energy analysis. With Kyoto target obligations necessitating the quantification of greenhouse gas emissions at the national level, it seems increasingly probable that analyses of this kind will increase in use. If conducted in primary energy terms, such analyses directly reflect greenhouse gas emissions, except for a few processes which involve significant non-energy related emissions such as cement manufacture. A Life-Cycle Assessment would include these issues, as well as other environmental parameters, though probably with a corresponding decrease in system boundary completeness. This paper briefly explains some of the theoretical issues associated with life-cycle energy analysis and then uses an Australian based case study to demonstrate its use in evaluating alternative design strategies for an energy efficient residential building. For example, it was found that the addition of higher levels of insulation in Australia paid back its initial embodied energy in life-cycle energy terms in around 12 years. However, the saving represented less than 6% of the total embodied energy and operational energy of the building over a 100-year life cycle. This indicates that there may be other strategies worth pursuing before additional insulation. Energy efficiency and other environmental strategies should be prioritized on a life-cycle basis.


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Building Research & Information



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