Teardown Index: Emissions of Single-Family Homes in Vancouver

Teardown Index: Emissions of Single-Family Homes in Vancouver

Joseph Dahmen (University of British Columbia, Canada), Jens von Bergmann (MountainMath Software and Analytics, Canada) and Misha Das (University of British Columbia, Canada)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 38
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2426-8.ch003


Replacing older homes with new ones constructed to higher efficiency standards is one way to raise the operating efficiency of building stocks. However, new buildings require large amounts of embodied energy to construct, and it can take years before more efficient operations offset carbon emissions associated with new construction. This chapter looks at the carbon dioxide emission payback period of newly constructed, efficient single-family homes in Vancouver, British Columbia, where the authors find that it takes over 150 years for the operation to equal the embodied carbon associated with the of a typical high-efficiency new home. The findings suggest that current policies aimed at reducing emissions by replacing older homes with new high-efficiency buildings should be reconsidered.
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Background And Context

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are significant drivers of climate change, which constitutes an intensifying threat to human and natural systems (IPCC 2014c). Buildings generate one-third of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (Ürge-Vorsatz et al. 2007; Pérez-Lombard et al. 2008; IEA and OECD 2016; De Wolf et al. 2017) and consume approximately 30% of secondary energy. GHG emissions from buildings have more than doubled since 1970, and are projected to double or triple by 2050 (IPCC 2014a). Reducing CO2 emissions of buildings will be a key component to meeting the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommendations, which call for the reduction of CO2 emissions by a factor of 4 to prevent irreversible changes to climate (IPCC 2014b).

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