Spatiotemporal tracking of building materials and their related environmental impacts

Endrit Hoxha, Nicolas Francart, Buket Tozan, Emilie Brisson Stapel, Srinivasa Raghavendra Bhuvan Gummidi, Harpa Birgisdottir

Urban development will increase the demand for new buildings expected to cause significant environmental impacts in the coming decades. Spatiotemporal prediction for new buildings, their typologies, resource quantities and types required for construction, and the associated impacts are crucial to effectively tackle strategies to reduce the related greenhouse gas emissions. Within the context of Denmark, this study establishes a prognosis of expected yearly embedded impacts across the country towards 2050 based on Business as Usual (frozen policy) trends. Through the Holt-Winters method’s additive version, the study forecasted the future amount of building types in each Danish municipality. The embedded impacts disaggregated into building types, components, materials, and life cycle stages are calculated from the material intensity coefficients of real projects. Considering a ‘business as usual’ scenario, the prediction shows an increase in demand by 6.5 % for new gross floor areas compared to the number of current buildings constructed in the past years. The GHGs from the upstream processing of materials correspond to 7 % of current consumption-based yearly emissions in Denmark. To strive for sustainable development, the findings of the study help inform stakeholders in the built environment to better correlate the material mechanism ‘supply-demand’ for circularity and where efforts to minimize the impacts should be prioritized.

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