Energy Mix Over a 50-year Lifecycle

Two of the key findings in the research conducted thus far conclude the relationship of operating energy and embodied energy in a retail building over a 50 year lifecycle. These conclusions are of critical importance in determining the design drivers and priorities for reducing energy in an optimal fashion. Over 50 years, 93.07% of the total energy expenditure of a retail building, meaning all embodied and operating energy and thus greenhouse gas emissions, is attributed to operating energy while the remaining 6.93% is attributed to initial and recurring embodied energy. Broken down further, the enclosure is attributed to 3.99%, of the total, doors and windows 1.52%, beams and columns 0.62% and foundations 0.80%. Thus, operating energy is the overwhelming source of carbon over the lifecycle of a building and achieving holistic carbon neutrality is a balancing act. The goal is to optimize material use and select materials and systems to eliminate non-renewable operating energy. This conclusion is important as it determines the direction and focus a designer should follow.