Carbon Emissions during the Building Construction Phase: A Comprehensive Case Study of Construction Sites in Denmark

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Buildings are major contributors of carbon emissions and related global warming. Emissions occur along all building stages, from a whole-life perspective, including material production, construction processes, building operations, maintenance and end-of-life processes. Upfront emissions include processes before building operations. They can be influenced immediately and will have a positive effect today. However, mitigation potentials during the construction stage are often overseen in research. This study presents an analysis of the carbon emissions of 61 Danish construction sites based on their energy consumption, waste production (module A5) and transport to site (A4). The results show carbon emissions for A4 of 0.28 and for A5 of 1.00 kgCO2e/m2 gross floor area per year over 50 years. This is 13.47% of the Danish whole-life carbon reference of 9.50 kgCO2e/m2y, which includes the product stage (A1–3), replacements (B4), operational energy use (B6) and waste processes and disposal (C3–4). Almost half of the emissions are related to construction waste followed by electricity, heat and fuel. Floor area and building use have not shown to be influential for carbon emissions, suggesting other parameters are more important. The significance of modules A4 and A5 suggests implementing them in future whole-life carbon assessments and related policies. This paper also demonstrates the development of generic emission coefficients, which are suited to increase the feasibility for application in the building industry. Finally, the usability of module A4 and A5 in environmental product declarations is discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number10992
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2023


  • construction process
  • transport
  • LCA
  • whole-life carbon assessment
  • upfront emissions


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