Everyday more and more businesses are going carbon neutral to help “give something back” to the environment as well as increase the value of their products and services. Pushing the boundaries of sustainable design in the retail space is Interface Construction who have implemented a carbon management program to enhance their business operations in retail fit outs.
With sustainability an established part of the business, many environmental practices were already in place, for example using sustainable certified materials, participating in the process of materials reuse with manufacturers, reducing waste due to careful planning and implementation and recycling onsite. The next step was to quantify their carbon footprint in order to compare and improve their service.
An eTool Life Cycle Assessment was conducted on one of Interface Construction’s jobs for ISV to firstly measure greenhouse gas emissions. The project included retrofitting an ensuite, kitchen and installing new joinery items.
With the core business objective of being carbon neutral in mind, the LCA report supported Interface Constructions in making decisions to avoid generating emissions. We identified that the transportation of trade staff to and from site was a large component, so recommended optimising visits onsite to help reduce overall carbon emissions. Material use is also a big factor, representing 60% of the carbon footprint; but by increasing the use of recycled timber and particle board, savings of 400 kg CO2e could be achieved.
Low carbon design principles were discussed during the Life Cycle Assessment process that could further reduce the impact of the fit out:
- Increase the design life of the fit out with smart design and enabling retrofitting
- Use of polished concrete floor in place of tiles
- Designing for disassembly for future reuse
Operational Energy was not modelled as part of this project, however we believe that considering this area during a fit-out could lead to significant environmental and cost benefits for the building owner through energy efficiency measures.
Once all the recommendations and measures have been implemented, Interface Construction will be them able to offset the residual GHG emissions, a total of 1,663 kg CO2e, to bring this job to carbon neutral status.
If you have any questions regarding the use of cost effective LCA for quantifying, comparing and improving environmental and cost impacts or would like some low carbon design training, please contact us.
This assessment was conducted by Henrique Mendonca.