Carbon budgets for buildings: Harmonizing temporal, spatial and sectoral dimensions

Guillaume Habert*, Martin Röck, Karl Steininger, Antonin Lupisek, Harpa Birgisdottir, Harald Desing, Alexander Passer, Ronald Rovers, Francesco Pittau, Chanjief Chandrakumar, Katarina Slavkovic, Alexander Hollberg, Endrit Hoxha, Thomas Jusselme, Emilie Nault, Karen Allacker, Thomas Lützkendorf

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Target values for creating carbon budgets for buildings are important for developing climate-neutral building stocks. A lack of clarity currently exists for defining carbon budgets for buildings and what constitutes a unit of assessment—particularly the distinction between production- and consumption-based accounting. These different perspectives on the system and the function that is assessed hinder a clear and commonly agreed definition of ‘carbon budgets’ for building construction and operation. This paper explores the processes for establishing a carbon budget for residential and non-residential buildings. A detailed review of current approaches to budget allocation is presented. The temporal and spatial scales of evaluation are considered as well as the distribution rules for sharing the budget between parties or activities. This analysis highlights the crucial need to define the temporal scale, the roles of buildings as physical artefacts and their economic activities. A framework is proposed to accommodate these different perspectives and spatio-temporal scales towards harmonised and comparable cross-sectoral budget definitions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-452
Number of pages24
JournalBuildings and Cities
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • building stock
  • buildings
  • built environment
  • carbon budget
  • climate policy
  • greenhouse gases

Fields of Expertise

  • Sustainable Systems

Cite this