Analysis of the Status Quo


Project Brief

You have been recently hired by a company active in the field of sustainable building design consultancy. Your line manager wants to test your skills and knowledge by assigning you a small residential project to carry out.

The client is a young, environmentally conscious couple living in Brighton, UK. They hired your company because unhappy with the current design they received from the architect (Figure 1).

Figure 1

Despite they mentioned they wanted a house with a low environmental impact, the architects have provided a concept of a house entirely made of bricks and with an asphalt roof. Your clients are not sure this is a best option to be kind to the environment and want to explore alternative possibilities. They also told you not to worry about internal layouts and elements such as stairs and internal doors as these will be considered further along the design process once they have made final choices on the key materials and design options.

The architects were not happy with the clients seeking a second opinion about their design and have only provided you with basic information about this building as shown in Table 1.

Building element




Entirely made of bricks (thickness of the wall 0.3 m)

122 m2


Asphalt roof (thickness of the roof 0.2 m)

60 m2


Concrete slab (thickness of the slab 0.175 m)

91 m2 (45.5 m2 /storey)


Aluminium frame with double glazed unit. Each window measures cm. 110 x 120

8 windows in total


Aluminium frame with double glazed unit. Each door measures cm. 110 x 240

2 doors in total (one at the front and one at the back)

Operational Expected service life

energy consumption

175 kWh/m2  year 80 years


Your company said they are happy to help and took the job, promising to get back to your client with an analysis of the status quo and options for improvement in a month’s time.

You had a briefing meeting with your line manager, and she tasked you with the following:

Assess the status quo in terms of embodied and whole life carbon. Specifically:

  1. Estimate the embodied carbon of each of the elements above b. Estimate the operational carbon across the entire building life (using UK grid factors since the house is in Brighton)
  2. Report these in table form and calculate the whole life carbon (WLC) of this building as things currently stand. As a minimum your line manager wants you to cover stages A1-A5, B6, and C1-C4 of the BS EN 15978 standard. She told you to use the supporting guidance (e.g. RICS, LETI) if the BS EN 15978 is not immediately clear to you.
  3. Normalise the WLC by m2(i.e. WLC/total floor area) and by years (i.e. WLC/service life) and include these in the above table
Identify at least two options to improve the status quo. Specifically you must identify an option from within each of the categories below:
  1. Materials: this could take the form of replacing the bricks with a material with lower environmental impact for instance
  2. Passive design strategies: this could be adding extra insulation to lower operational energy consumption for instance
For each of the options you need to calculate the improvements it produces both in net terms (i.e. reduction of XX kgCO2e) as well as percentages (i.e. YY% improvement compared to the status quo)
Document the evidence behind each decision you make. Your line manager is a PhD graduate and does not just trust information retrieved from a quick Google search. She told you that acceptable sources are academic articles, conference proceedings, books, environmental product declarations (EPDs), and existing databases (such as EPiC or ICE).

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