Environmental Performance in Construction (EPiC) initiative

Whilst buildings account for close to 40% of national energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions, there are also significant embodied energy and emissions associated with their construction. These embodied quantities are the sum of the energy and emissions required to produce and assemble all the materials used whilst the building is constructed.

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The embodied energy and emissions of construction projects is increasing, especially as our projects become more material and technologically intensive and as we reduce building operational energy demands. Recognising the need to assess these indirect embodied environmental effects of construction projects, Associate Professor Robert Crawford led the Environmental Performance in Construction (EPiC) initiative; a multi-institutional research project funded by the Australian Government through the Australian Research Council.

“Reducing embodied energy and emissions in construction projects is crucial. To do this effectively, we need data on the embodied energy and emissions of construction materials”, says Assoc. Prof. Crawford.

This form of data has been quite limited in Australia, so the focus of Assoc. Prof. Crawford and his team’s research was developing a database of embodied energy and GHG emissions coefficients for the production of construction materials. Manufacturer data on energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions for the production of a range of construction materials was combined with industry-based energy and emissions data from national accounts. This produced coefficients representing the total energy and emissions associated with the production of these materials from cradle to factory gate.

The result of the team’s research and data collection is the EPiC Database, a comprehensive source of embodied energy and emissions values for construction materials produced in Australia. It uses a novel hybrid approach to compile the coefficients, which ensures data completeness and which is rare in similar international databases. The data is presented in an accessible format for use by industry.

If you want to learn more about this project and the database, visit the EPiC website or email epic@unimelb.edu.au.

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