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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Towards net zero buildings assessment framework : a natural capital approach Hossaini Fard, Navid


Net zero buildings can be a viable solution to the rising environmental challenges caused by the construction and building industry. Many countries around the globe are shifting toward sustainable development and net zero buildings (NZBs). Even though buildings are closely linked with their surrounding environment, consideration of local resources is largely lacking in net zero building design and assessment. This research aims to fill the knowledge gap by developing an assessment framework based on local natural capital to achieve net zero targets in buildings. The framework covers the complete life span of buildings and assesses how a building can become self-sufficient by using local natural resources. The framework aims to provide a decision support to various stakeholders in the pre-design stage, to evaluate sustainability options for implementation in the building’s design. The developed methodology is applied to a building registered with the Living Building Challenge to evaluate net zero performance over its life cycle. Impacts of each of the building components are investigated. The results indicate that the Living Building Challenge (LBC) design is not net zero, however the building can achieve net zero Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (CO₂e) emissions over its life cycle by investing more into renewable energy and with the help of materials recycling and an off-site carbon offset program. A detailed uncertainty analysis is then performed to enhance the understanding of sustainability assessment methods. Sources of uncertainty in the developed framework are identified and different types of uncertainties are investigated. Results show that the sustainability assessment is most sensitive to the building life span, building occupants’ (users’) behaviours, and the end-of-life scenarios for the building materials. Based on the developed framework for net zero buildings, some policy recommendations have been made. These recommendations will guide a fair distribution of life cycle costs and benefits of net zero building among all building stakeholders.

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