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A comprehensive approach to mitigation of embodied carbon in reinforced concrete buildings

Gan, Vincent J.L., Cheng, Jack C.P., Lo, Irene M.C.
Journal of cleaner production 2019 v.229 pp. 582-597
buildings, carbon, cities, concrete, greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gases
The building sector represents nearly one third of the global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, in which the embodied carbon of reinforced concrete is recognized as a significant source of the GHG emissions. Developing low carbon reinforced concrete buildings is an important strategy to achieve the long term sustainability in urban cities. However, the large variability and the combined effect of different reinforced concrete design parameters during the production stage presents considerable effects on the total embodied carbon of buildings, which were not fully explored in literature. Thus, this study aims to develop a systematic approach to quantify the detailed relationship between different concrete design parameters and their combined effects, thereby helping mitigate the building GHG emissions. The proposed approach takes into account the parameters that have significant effects on the embodied carbon of reinforced concrete, and studies different variations of reinforced concrete designs to minimize the carbon emissions. The results of this study serve as a decision support basis for improving the building design in regard to carbon reduction. In an illustrative example, the proposed approach is examined to compare the embodied carbon for different material design scenarios and to suggest the material choice for a lower embodied carbon in concrete buildings.