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Energies 2012, 5(8), 2874-2893; doi:10.3390/en5082874

Are the Greenhouse Gas Implications of New Residential Developments Understood Wrongly?

1
Department of Surveying and Planning, School of Engineering, Aalto University, P.O. Box 15800, Aalto 00076, Finland
2
RAKLI—The Finnish Association of Building Owners and Construction Clients, Annankatu 24, Helsinki 00100, Finland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 1 June 2012 / Revised: 26 July 2012 / Accepted: 27 July 2012 / Published: 6 August 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Efficient Buildings and Green Buildings)
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Abstract

Built environment carbon reduction strategies materialize predominantly in city-level greenhouse gas (GHG) management, where new residential development appears as one of the key instruments. However, city-level assessments are often incapable of producing data at a community or neighborhood level and thus they may heavily underestimate the emissions from new construction. This paper explores the implications of low-energy residential construction as an instrument of climate change mitigation in the built environment and demonstrates why city-level approaches easily fail to identify the significance of the emissions from construction. We employ a hybrid life cycle assessment (LCA) approach to demonstrate that, when the temporal allocation of emissions from the construction and use phases is taken into account, construction phase emissions come to have a central role in finding effective GHG mitigation strategies—even when the emissions from all consumption activities during the use phase are included in the assessment. In fact, their role would seem to be so central that new residential construction cannot be utilized as an instrument of city carbon management, even over a relatively long period. While we analyze a case study from Finland, the analysis intends to highlight the situation throughout the globe. View Full-Text
Keywords: life cycle assessment; climate change; city; neighborhood; construction; low-energy; resident life cycle assessment; climate change; city; neighborhood; construction; low-energy; resident
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Heinonen, J.; Säynäjoki, A.-J.; Kuronen, M.; Junnila, S. Are the Greenhouse Gas Implications of New Residential Developments Understood Wrongly? Energies 2012, 5, 2874-2893.

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