Study: Durable building materials lessen long-term carbon footprint

Manish Dixit

Manish Dixit

The use of durable construction materials in building maintenance and renovation projects can lower a structure’s carbon footprint while lengthening its service life, said Manish Dixit, an architecture Ph.D. student at Texas A&M who’s research earned top honors at a recent international construction research forum.

His conclusions, drawn from a survey of research literature, should motivate energy-conscious facility managers, he said, to prefer durable materials and components for post-construction and renovations projects, because they help mitigate carbon dioxide emissions. The accumulation of such emissions is the fundamental cause of the greenhouse effect, which contributes to global warming and climate change.

Dixon’s research garnered a best paper award at the International Council for Research and Innovation in Building and Construction’s W70 conference, held Jan. 22-25 in Cape Town, South Africa.

His analysis compared the relationship of energy used in maintenance and renovation processes, or “recurrent embodied energy,” to the building’s service life and life cycle energy consumption.

“Managers who deal directly with such processes are responsible for reducing the recurrent embodied energy in a built facility,” he said. “Facility management practices strongly relate to a building's recurrent embodied energy, as they ultimately involve deciding whether to renovate and retrofit or demolish a built facility.”

Dixit’s research uncovered considerable variation in studies measuring facilities’ recurrent energy levels.

“With inconsistent and inaccurate data, decisions are hard to make for a facility manager,” said Dixit. He addressed the problem by determining the amount of variation of energy data in case studies and identifying factors that caused the variations.

In addition to his doctoral studies, Dixit is also pursuing a graduate certificate in facility management from the CRS Center for Leadership and Management in the Design and Construction Industry at the Texas A&M College of Architecture.

posted February 2, 2012