Dublin City Council is working with net-zero technology company IES on a digital twin project to identify how the city’s social housing stock can be decarbonised in terms of both operational energy and embodied energy.
IES modelled three residential blocks using its digital-twin software. It assessed the full carbon impact and efficiency of four renovation strategies, over three different time periods, to regenerate the buildings built in 1962.
The project took a ‘whole-life carbon’ approach, taking into account both embodied and operational carbon. Consideration of embodied carbon, which are the emissions associated with construction and materials throughout the whole lifecycle of a building, is a critical part of sustainable building analysis that is often overlooked.
A digital twin is a virtual replica of a building, based on real data and physics-based simulations. The digital twins were used to identify which strategy, ranging from ‘shallow retrofit’ through to ‘demolish and rebuild’, would result in the greatest reduction in whole-life carbon emissions.
Based on the digital twins from IES, the best renovation strategy was deemed to be ‘deep retrofit’, predicted to result in a reduction of around 85 per cent in cumulative emissions.
Don McLean, founder and CEO, IES, said, “Retrofitting vs. demolition continues to be a widespread debate. With around 80 per cent of the buildings that will exist in 2050 being likely to be already built, retrofitting has a key role to play in decarbonising our built environment and driving energy efficiency. While demolition is sometimes unavoidable, it increases emissions through the embodied carbon and the materials required for rebuilding.”