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Sustainable Urban Design: A Study in the Emissions Impact Related to the Choice of Urban Typologies and Construction Process
Published: 10 June 2015 by MDPI in 8th Conference of the International Forum on Urbanism (IFoU) session True Smart & Green Urban Economies
Abstract: While there is an international trend to develop zero or near zero emissions building solutions by 2020, and there are also countless studies on how to optimize building envelope and energy systems to achieve it during the building useful life, few studies take into consideration the enormous impact of the emissions resulting from the urbanization and construction activities, previous to the building use. This research studies in detail the whole emissions balance (and how they can be related or not to the energy efficiency) in a real project of newly built residential clusters in Mancha Real (Jaén, Spain), and the influence resulting from the choice of the different urban typologies. For comparison, single family row houses and low density four floor multi family housing alternatives have been studied, as they are among most popular housing solutions in Spain. The detailed life-cycle analysis, energy efficiency and emissions have been calculated with the help of a sophisticated and popular commercial software (CYPE). Also the research has been done under the current emissions and energy regulations in Spain, all under the EC general policy framework. Even though the local and very specific character of this study, the methodology can be applied to any other typology and geographical area. After careful choice of building and systems alternatives and their comparison, the study concludes that the major emissions impact and energy cost of the urbanization and building activity occurs during the construction, while the later savings due to the reductions of the building use emissions are very modest in comparison. Therefore, more study is suggested to improve the efficiency in the urban design and typological solutions, and in the construction process itself, for a really reduced emission footprint of the built environment.
Keywords: Economical life cycle analysis of buildings and/or infrastructures from neighborhood to city level, green urban economies, sustainable urban design strategies.