Greenhouse gas reduction strategies for building materials: A reality check with the climate targets

Nicolas Alaux*, Barbara Truger, Endrit Hoxha, Marcella Ruschi Mendes Saade, Alexander Passer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


The increasing importance of the embodied emissions in the life cycle of buildings has led to a growing interest in strategies supporting their mitigation. In this paper are presented the environmental impacts of 10 variants of a single-family house assessed with the life cycle assessment (LCA) method. A set of potential technological improvements and strategies are applied at the material level. Their influence at the building level is discussed and the resulting global warming potentials are compared to the COP21 targets for Austrian buildings. Finally, potential trade-offs in 9 other environmental impact categories are explored. The results show that, when incorporating all of the assessed strategies for emission reduction, the embodied greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions could be reduced up to 87% at the material level and 50% at the building level. Carbon capture and storage and the use of bio-based materials are to be credited for the highest share of these reductions. However, there is no version of this building that fulfils the COP21 targets. Other pathways, which do not solely rely on material-related technological improvements, should be investigated. A more radical change of the building industry might even be necessary. Overall, the implementation of the strategies decreased the environmental impacts in almost every impact category, except for freshwater aquatic ecotoxicity.
Original languageEnglish
Article number012050
Number of pages11
JournalIOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sept 2022
EventSustainable Built Environment D-A-CH Conference 2022 - Built environment within Planetary Boundaries: SBE22 berlin - Natural Building Lab constructive design and climate adaptive architecture TU Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Duration: 20 Sept 202223 Sept 2022


  • Buildings
  • future technologies
  • greenhouse gas emissions (GHG)
  • life cycle assessment (LCA)
  • mitigation strategies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

Fields of Expertise

  • Sustainable Systems

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