Figure 6.1 Municipal building energy codes need to transition to include embodied energy
Various requirements and challenges are necessary for such a transition.
Coming together to construct sustainable buildings and cities is hard work. Shifting the process towards bio-based and circular renewable materials makes it even more challenging. The use of readily available tools to manage, visualise and communicate the data behind decisions can be game-changing. In formal construction, where supply chains for building materials and systems are highly complex, computational tools and data visualisation frameworks are key in helping decision-makers compare the pros and cons of different materials in terms of their embodied, operational and end-of-use emissions. However, huge discrepancies in access to such tools exist across the formal to informal construction sectors.
To comply with increasingly ambitious emission reduction goals and pledges, stakeholders across the built environment sector are taking responsibility for a wider scope of information, in order to deliver materials and systems that have predictable and verifiable environmental performance. Data management and visualisation tools are emerging that offer “at-a-glance” scenarios to support decision-making in real time. However, as with environmental assessments and certifications across all sectors, the verifiability of data remains a huge challenge. There is a significant range in the quality and quantity of transparent data, regulatory procedures, and certification processes across all material sectors, even the most developed ones, resulting in uncertainty on the part of material specifiers.
The transparent measurement and quality of data on the environmental impacts of construction materials continues to improve. Accessible and transparent tools are emerging that involve third-party verification and tracking of global material, energy and information flows across the building life cycle, providing the policy enablers for market transformation. However, considerable challenges remain in comparing the environmental impacts of materials and systems through the use of third-party certifications, due to variability in data quality, methods, functional equivalencies, etc. (see Figure 6.1).