An Analysis of Problems with Current Indicators for Evaluating Carbon Performance in the Construction Industry

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Abstract

"Low-carbon" is well acknowledged as one of the key factors contributing to sustainable urban development, and also an effective approach for tackling climate change. Since the building sector accounts for a high proportion of carbon emissions, the construction is regarded as one of the most potential industry to reduce carbon emissions. However, there is no standardized indicator to measure carbon performance in the construction industry. As a result, the choice of various indicators may result in significantly different carbon performances which determine whether an industry is considered truly "low carbon". In this paper, the current indicators for assessing carbon performance in the construction industry are reviewed. The pros and cons of the current indicators are also highlighted. The problems of using the current indicators are discussed, and these problems are often related to accuracy of indicator, data availability and definitions of specific terms. Suggestions are made to focus on carbon emissions at building operation stage first as it accounts for a significant amount of carbon emissions during the whole building life-cycle. It should be highlighted that embodied emissions of buildings are also important during the whole building life-cycle. However, due to the challenges in data acquisition for calculating embodied emissions, attention should be paid more to the operational stage first as smart meters can be used to facilitate data collection processes. The findings provide clues for industry practitioners to develop an indicator which is more practical in use to assess carbon performance in the construction industry.

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Lee, P., Wang, M. C., & Chan, E. H. W. (2016). An Analysis of Problems with Current Indicators for Evaluating Carbon Performance in the Construction Industry. In Procedia Engineering (Vol. 164, pp. 425–431). Elsevier Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.proeng.2016.11.640

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