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The impact of construction labour productivity on the renovation wave

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The European Green Deal’s Renovation Wave aims to renovate 35 million energy-inefficient buildings to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by at least 55% by 2030. Historically, efforts to reduce CO2 emissions focused on Operational Energy (OE) of the finished buildings. However, in recent years the Embodied Energy (EE) of the building’s construction process has gained attention because of its essential role in construction renovations projects. In this context, construction efficiency, and more precisely, workers’ efficiency, is a vital catalyst to achieve the European Union (EU) targets. To identify the impact of Construction Labour Productivity (CLP) on the renovation wave an exploratory case study was adopted as research strategy. Data from four domestic housing renovation projects were gathered. Three specific research goals are outlined. The first is to demonstrate the effect of the adoption of Lean tools and methods to increase CLP. The second is to quantify the correlation between improved productivity and the EE emissions saved during the construction phase. The third goal is to estimate the effect the higher productivity has on OE emissions. The results show that the adoption of several Lean tools and methods has a potential to improve CLP to 45%. This rate of improvement for the 35 million housing units to be renovated could save 6.9 million tonnes CO2 e from EE and 386 million tonnes CO2 e from OE. This novelty link between process improvements and reduced energy consumption and emissions can support politicians and infrastructural developers in decision-making for a more sustainable construction industry.

Original languageEnglish
JournalConstruction Economics and Building
Pages (from-to)11-32
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
DECLARATION OF CONFLICTING INTEREST The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. FUNDING This research was part of the Reconcile project, funded by the EU Interreg (project grant # NYPS 20204782).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the author(s).

    Research areas

  • Carbon Dioxide (CO) Emissions, Construction Labour Productivity (CLP), Embodied Energy (EE), Lean Construction, Renovation Wave

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