Review on carbon emissions of commercial buildings

Mengxue Lu, Joseph Lai

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

88 Citations (Scopus)


The building sector accounts for one-third of energy-related carbon emissions. For commercial buildings, their energy use has been widely studied but research on their carbon emissions has not been common. To provide a state-of-the-art portrait of carbon emissions of commercial buildings, a study was conducted. Through an extensive review of official datasets, government statistics, authoritative website information and 101 journal articles that are germane to the study, it was found that the global carbon emission has continued to rise although many places have introduced incentive or subsidy schemes for carbon mitigation. Carbon emission has become a major evaluation aspect of the renowned building environmental rating methods such as BREEAM and Green Star, but it remains merely an evaluation criterion under the energy analysis category of both LEED and BEAM Plus. Whereas the first international standard (ISO 16745) on carbon emission calculation and carbon metrics for existing buildings was not referenced in any of the studies reviewed, following this standard to pursue carbon studies in future can enable comparisons of study results on the same basis. Rather than simulation studies, more empirical research using operational data of existing buildings should be carried out in order to obtain real and definite findings. Despite the wide range of efforts made, the growth of carbon emission remains a live issue. How this issue could be resolved should be the focus of future research in this area.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109545
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • Building
  • Carbon
  • Energy
  • Greenhouse gas
  • Policy
  • Review
  • Standard

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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