Life Cycle Analysis
Whilst building a local and unprocessed stone and flimsy timber house may have an exceptionally low carbon footprint, if it requires constant high levels of fossil fuel produced energy to maintain a comfortable interior environment or high levels of maintenance or replacement of low durability materials then far more energy could be expended on the building and in its occupancy over the years rather than in it’s initial construction.
So, it can be seen that some increase in carbon footprint can decrease the amount of energy expended over the life of a building and careful consideration needs to be given throughout the process.
Specification of longer lasting & more durable cladding, better and more insulation, higher technical specification of exterior doors and windows, more advanced and technically superior active systems for heating and cooling and additional solar collectors for both water heating and power generation and water recycling systems will all add to the initial carbon footprint of the construction phase but all these items will contribute dramatically to the reduction of fossil fuel produced energy over the lifespan of the building.
As with all things, a sensible and balanced approach should be taken, but with awareness of the options and implications, reasonable selections can be made that will have less impact on the environment and cushion owners from increased costs over time.