Ms Agneta Ghose
Is Energy Efficient Refurbishment of Office Buildings Really Good for the Environment?”
The building sector is one of the largest contributing sectors to global energy consumption. In the future, energy consumption is expected to increase, particularly in commercial buildings. In New Zealand, the commercial building sector consumes nine per cent of the total energy use and further contributes to one kiloton of carbon emissions annually.
Refurbishment is undertaken to improve the energy performance of existing buildings. However, it is a challenge to refurbish existing buildings to reduce energy consumption whilst minimising environmental impacts. Energy efficiency measures recommended for commercial buildings are dependent on the building size, age and use. In this study, we will evaluate a range of recommended refurbishment measures to improve energy performance in a selection of representative office buildings in New Zealand using Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). LCA is an environmental analysis technique that calculates the environmental impacts associated with activities from extraction of raw materials, through manufacture, distribution, use and on to waste management. The environmental impacts of refurbishment in New Zealand´s building could be different from those of similar buildings in other countries due to different sourcing of materials, specific climatic conditions, and the fact that the New Zealand electricity mix is dominated by renewable energy sources. An understanding of the net life cycle based environmental impacts will support decisions for better refurbishment practices.