Embodied GHGs in a Fast Growing City: Looking at the Evolution of a Dwelling Stock using Structural Element Breakdown and Policy Scenarios: Embodied GHGs in a Fast Growing City
Africa is currently experiencing rapid population growth and accelerated urbanization. This demographic shift will require a large amount of new construction material resulting in substantial environmental impact. For many cities on the continent, data gaps make specific quantification and robust prediction of this impact highly difficult. This article presents a method to assess the stock dynamics and embodied emissions of a rapidly growing urban built environment using a bottom-up, typological approach. This approach allows for the identification of appropriate engineering solutions for decarbonization by localizing embodied greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the different constructive elements with a revisited Sankey diagram. Different alternatives regarding housing type and construction techniques are compared. The city of Johannesburg is used as a case study to illustrate the relation between building types, technologies, and embodied GHG of its residential building stock. This new visualization uncovers the most material- and GHG-intense dwelling types and building elements. The adapted Sankey represents the building stock and its drivers in a simple way, allowing clear understanding of the consequences of potential alternatives. The business-as-usual scenario indicates 100.5 megatons carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2-eq) for new construction between 2011 and 2040. The results of the dynamic model over time show that only a combination of a densified building stock with multistory buildings and the use of alternative construction materials and techniques show real potential to decelerate GHG emissions (33.0 Mt CO2-eq until 2040) while aiming to provide adequate and sustainable housing for all.