Document Type



This item is available under a Creative Commons License for non-commercial use only


Probability, Construction engineering, Energy and fuels

Publication Details

Journal of Energy Policy, Volume 39, Issue 1, Pages 429-441. ISSN 0301-4215. Available from


Policymakers traditionally focus on regulating operational energy use in buildings, ignoring other life cycle components such as embodied energy even though this may account for a significant portion of life cycle emissions. Data relating to embodied energy and emissions in buildings is limited. However, stochastic techniques can be used to estimate the distribution of such emissions from buildings. This helps policymakers identify which instruments are appropriate for achieving emissions reductions. A primary aim of this paper is to demonstrate this approach using a sample of apartment buildings in Ireland. A Monte-Carlo simulation suggests that the average probability distribution of embodied greenhouse gases in a sample of Irish apartment buildings is characteristic of a Wakeby distribution with a long tail which can be targeted for improvement through the implementation of appropriate policies. Two policies are investigated: one regulatory whereby the embodied emissions of building materials are limited to the 80th percentile of their current distributions; and one informational where buildings are given an embodied emissions rating. It is estimated that such policies could result in an average reduction of 450gCO2-eq/€ for the sample of apartment buildings analysed and could result in savings of €2bn to EU-27 countries in avoided carbon credits.