EPiC Europe: a construction material environmental flow database for Europe

This joint PhD project is based at The University of Melbourne with a minimum 12 month stay at KU Leuven

Project description
Our buildings and cities are responsible for a significant proportion of global environmental issues, including greenhouse gas emissions, resource depletion, waste and pollution. Efforts to address these issues have predominately focused on operational performance such as improving the energy efficiency of building use. The environmental issues associated with material production are rarely considered as part of building and city design or construction. However, they represent an increasingly significant issue. Global interest in addressing these issues is rapidly growing.

For example, the World Green Building Council has called for all new buildings and infrastructure to have net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, which includes material production‐related, or embodied emissions. Reliable and comprehensive data is essential for informing decision‐making to reduce these and other embodied environmental flows (e.g. energy, water etc.) associated with material production.

The recently released EPiC Database was developed to provide embodied energy, greenhouse gas emissions and water coefficients for the production of common construction materials in Australia, which had previously been lacking. While applicable to Australia, this database is less relevant to other regions of the world due to variations in material types, fuel mix and manufacturing processes. This project will develop a similar database for common construction materials used in Europe. Material production and national environmental account data will be collected for a number of European countries, beginning with Belgium, and used to develop the coefficients using the same unique and comprehensive hybrid technique used to produce the existing EPiC Database. The coefficients will then be analysed and tested on building projects in Belgium.

Thus, this project aims to develop a similar database of environmental flow data for common construction materials used in Europe. The project has the following objectives:

  1. Review existing research on construction material environmental data for Europe
  2. Obtain environmental data for construction materials in Europe
  3. Develop hybrid environmental flow coefficients for common construction materials in Europe
  4. Compile EPiC Europe database
  5. Testing and sensitivity analysis at material and building scale
  6. Dissemination of research findings

The project will be complemented by the project on Environmental benchmarks for residential buildings in Belgium based on a hybrid LCI and modelling approach and the collaboration will ensure a successful completion of the project.

Supervision team:

Principal Investigators (PIs)

Associate Professor Robert Crawford (The University of Melbourne)
Associate Professor Dr Karen Allacker (KU Leuven)

Co-Principal Investigators (co-PIs)

Dr André Stephan (Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium)