Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



Publication Details

Building and Environment, Vol. 70, December 2013, pp.90-101


Models which fully evaluate the life cycle energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of national housing stocks are not reported in literature. Capturing a holistic view of energy and emissions of the residential sector is an important process that can lead to a more effective policy making. This paper presents a methodology which evaluates the life cycle energy and GHG emissions of retrofitting housing stocks considering all life cycle stages and incorporating, to the greatest extent possible, all upstream inputs.

To achieve this, we developed a hybrid model of the existing Irish housing stock, comprising a process-based approach supplemented by input – output LCA for installation of materials and fit-outs and maintenance of appliances. Life cycle analysis (LCA) is a commonly accepted technique for evaluating cradle-to-grave environmental impacts of a product. Using an assumed 50-year life span in all cases, representative archetypes were used to estimate the performance along retrofitting, operation, maintenance and disassembly phases of the three selected house retrofit scenarios: BaseCase (no intervention), Current Standards (retrofitting to meet current building regulations) and Passive House (retrofitting to meet Passive House Standards).

Results show that detached houses displayed the highest range of life cycle energy and exhibited the greatest absolute and percentage reductions compared to other house types, as life cycle energy ranges from 386 – 614 kWh/m2 yr, 225 – 261 kWh/m2 yr and 126 – 137 kWh/m2 yr for all house scenarios, respectively. Using these results an assessment is provided for policy makers on a holistic view of the life cycle performance of existing dwellings.