BIM-based life cycle environmental performance assessment of single-family houses: Renovation and reconstruction strategies for aging building stock in British Columbia

Haibo Feng, Don Rukmal Liyanage, Hirushie Karunathilake, Rehan Sadiq, Kasun Hewage*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


The building sector accounts for 40% of the energy use and one-third of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally. Buildings deteriorate with age, which leads to a decrease in their energy performance. Therefore, it is significant to improve the energy performance of aging building block although it is challenging. The two main decision paths for municipalities are renovation and reconstruction. This study investigated the above options for the older housing stock in a densely populated urban centre in British Columbia, Canada. A scenario-based analysis approach was taken to evaluate the life cycle GHG emissions of six different renovation and reconstruction scenarios. The total life cycle emissions were calculated for each scenario including the embodied and operational emission, and the emissions from building construction and maintenance. A BIM-LCA combined approach was used to assess the embodied GHG emissions with the SimaPro software. HOT2000 software was used to model the operational GHG emissions. The results show that in the reconstruction scenarios, around 40% of the emissions are from the material manufacturing stage. The embodied emissions generated from the reconstruction scenarios are 5–6 times higher than the renovation scenarios. The life cycle GHG emissions of the existing house can be reduced by applying renovations, with the emissions saving gradually increasing with the level of retrofitting. The passive house reconstruction scenario delivers the greatest benefit in terms of life cycle emissions reduction compared to all other scenarios. In terms of the GHG emission intensity per unit area, the newly-built houses in scenarios 5 and 6 also have lower life cycle GHG emission per square meter than the renovated existing houses in scenario 1–4 after 15 and 10 years to breakeven respectively. Based on this, it can be concluded that when considering the older existing building stock, a careful weighing of options must take place before making the decision on replacing them with new construction. However, it is also important to consider the economic and social aspects before making decisions to renovate or replace existing houses. The study outcomes will support city planners and urban development planners to make decisions on BC aging building stock development, especially in high population density neighbourhoods.

Original languageEnglish
Article number119543
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Early online date3 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


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