Energy-efficient homes reduce their operating energy costs and carbon emissions, and new design principles and technologies are making them ever more efficient. Yet some of the materials used to build them are themselves energy- and emissions-intensive to make. Does that matter? Many believe that the gains from lower operating energy far outweigh the embodied energy in even the most energy-intensive materials.
To date, analysis on the question has been relatively rare. The market is uncertain as to how much attention should be given to the resource- and emissions-intensity of quality materials used in sustainable design.
Edge Environment has used life cycle assessment (LCA) to review the energy and emissions performance of a typical Australian freestanding home.
This analysis considered the location and use of homes, their construction and their end-of-life decommissioning. We have drawn on both the existing LCA literature and our own work on the energy-efficient CSR House, built in 2013. By analysing and benchmarking different building and appliance options for CSR House, we were also able to answer questions left open by previous research. The conclusions from this research were consistent and clear.
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Written by Jonas Bengtsson, Josh Dowse and Clint Craggs