Can interlocking block structural systems reduce carbon emissions for Irish housing?   

Alicja Prazuch

Test Methods
Life Cycle Analysis
Manual  Calculation

For copy of full dissertation, contact:

Timothy O' Leary
Olivia Golden

This study introduces a novel interlocking timber block construction method and compares it to two typical structural systems using life cycle analysis to determine the most carbon efficient specificaiton.

The purpose of this study was to determine whether a structural system made of interlocking insulated timber blocks would reduce our carbon emissions. This system is a revolutionary construction method essentially made up of insulated blocks, an adapted floor system, and insulated beams and lintels allowing you to build the exterior and interior walls of your timber house. The blocks are made with OSB/3 18mm board and 264mm graphite EPS insulation. Developed according to current environmental concerns, the system is 100% recyclable. There is no need for a joining system or toxic adhesive since the timber blocks interlock. All components are delivered directly to your site with your assembly plan. In this study, life cycle analysis, technical detailing, and manual calculations were used to compare structural systems commonly used in Ireland, such as timber frame and cavity block wall, with interlocking block system to determine which building method produces the least carbon emissions.

A study was conducted in regards to the EU's embodied emission targets set for Ireland which is to reduce emissions by 44-54%1. It is estimated that more than 33,000 houses will be built annually until 2030. Based on the research and technical detailing, a life cycle analysis was done on Tally software after building a Revit model for each structural system. Results were compared and analysed showing materials used in their life cycle stages, categories of materials and their global warming potential.

According to the life cycle analysis and manual calculations, interlocking blocks produce the least amount of carbon emissions. In order of environmental impact, the timber frame was ranked second and the cavity block wall was the least eco-friendly and released the most carbon dioxide. Using this study, designers might be encouraged to consider using life cycle analysis in their projects and to consider using a new innovative system in their designs.