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Can timber construction reduce the environmental impacts of a possible building boom in Ireland?   

Laura O'Toole

Test Methods
Building Information Modelling (BIM)
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)


For copy of full dissertation, contact:
lauraotoole7@yahoo.ie

Supervisors:
Timothy O'Leary
Jim Roche



This study highlights the opportunity for the construction industry to tackle the pressing issue of housing while also improving Ireland's efforts to engage in environmental advancement.
This research was carried out to investigate the use of timber in the Irish construction industry.

Respecting timber's environmental capabilities, this study uncovers the use of timber as a sustainable construction material and proves its influence in carbon emission reduction which can then reduce further, the critical impacts building 33,000 new houses each year until 2030 could have on Ireland's environment. Satisfying the demand for housing is a current distressing topic, therefore this study highlights the opportunity for the construction industry to tackle the pressing issue of housing while also improving Ireland's efforts to engage in environmental advancement. 

A life cycle assessment (LCA) was conducted using the Revit plug-in Tally on the environmental footprints of two different construction types. For the purpose of the comparative study to determine the environmental impact reduction of using timber, a LCA was carried out on a Revit model with a timber construction system which was then compared with the results of another LCA, carried out on the same building type but modelled with a masonry construction. This building type for the Revit models were based off drawings from a Scheme Dwelling Development in Dublin, which was a case study found upon the examination of Ireland's common dwelling types.

This study can confirm that the timber dwelling assessed does have a lower environmental footprint than the masonry, especially regarding the level of CO2 emissions which were analysed under the Global Warming Potential impact category. Although the timber system emitted slightly higher emissions of nitrogen and sulphur when tested under other impact categories, the carbon emissions proved to be highest and most concerning. The results prove the role of timber in carbon reduction, therefore it is a sustainable choice for the construction of the 33,000+ houses to be built as part of the intended building boom. Using LCA's to highlight this decrease in emissions is a small step to achieve Ireland's long-term decarbonization goals.

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