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Exploring the Whole Life Carbon Benefits of Insulation Materials in Housing Refurbishment

Tucker, Simon and Spittle, Ben 2013. Exploring the Whole Life Carbon Benefits of Insulation Materials in Housing Refurbishment. Presented at: SB13@Coventry: Sustainable Building & Construction Conference, Coventry University, Coventry, UK, 3-5 July 2013. SB13@Coventry: Sustainable Building and Construction Conference [proceedings]. Coventry: Coventry University, pp. 294-304.

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Embodied carbon can be an important part of a building’s whole life carbon cost and as such offers potential possibilities to reduce carbon emissions. To date the majority of research in this area has focused on new buildings and overlooked the existing housing stock much of which is in urgent need of upgrading if emissions reduction targets set out by the Government are to be achieved. This paper briefly explores the whole life benefits of including embodied carbon in the specification of insulation materials in UK retrofits. Insulation has the potential to both reduce in-use CO2 emissions of a building as well as lead to further emissions during its manufacture and transport, and in the case of bio-insulations to even sequester CO2. Dynamic thermal simulation was used to predict CO2 savings over 25 to 50 year periods resulting from heating reductions of retrofitting, and the embodied carbon values of the materials used was calculated using two freely available databases. Three insulation materials were used for comparison; Polyurethane foam, Mineral wool and Wood fibre. The results suggest that the reduction of embodied carbon in retrofitting has the potential to reduce a buildings whole life carbon, with the extent of this reduction dependent on whether sequestered carbon is included in the figures for bio based insulation. Although the accepted orthodoxy recommends the use of the most efficient insulation available, this study shows that the inclusion of embodied carbon values into the equation brings this approach into question.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Architecture
Subjects: T Technology > TD Environmental technology. Sanitary engineering
T Technology > TH Building construction
Publisher: Coventry University
ISBN: 9781846000492
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Last Modified: 04 Apr 2020 01:40

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