Digital technological solutions for embodied carbon estimation in the building sector: A PRISMA Review

Nigamuni Geeth Jayathilaka*, Niraj Thurairajah, Mohamad Kassem, Akila Rathnasinghe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

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Embodied carbon (EC) has emerged as a pressing issue in the building sector, with a focus on achieving the 2050 net zero carbon target. Accurate estimation of EC requires extensive data inputs, policies, and standards from the global construction supply chains. Although various tools exist for computing EC in the building sector, they largely rely on secondary data from users and environmental product declarations, raising concerns about the accuracy of the estimates. Critics argue that the construction industry needs to focus on adopting emerging digital technologies (EDTs) to improve the accuracy of EC estimation. This study aims to investigate state-of-the-art current literature on the use of EDTs in embodied emission estimation of the construction industry. Using preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses, a systematic literature review was conducted on government reports, journal articles, and conference publications from the last five years (2017–22). The study focused on five EDTs – blockchain, machine learning, building information modelling, digital twin, and Internet of things – to analyse their potential adoption for improving the accuracy of EC estimation. The research community has attempted to address the limitations of existing tools by utilizing salient features of the EDTs, and the study highlights four key performance features – accuracy, traceability, transparency, and efficiency – that have contributed to the development of the EC tool. The study concludes that the usage of EDTs has proven to be effective in overcoming certain limitations, but more research is required to develop commercially viable tools using EDTs. The authors critically evaluate the building sector’s contribution to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 13 of ‘climate action’, highlighting the need for the construction industry to adopt emerging technologies to improve EC estimation accuracy and contribute to global sustainability efforts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResilience in Research and Practice
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the International Postgraduate Research Conference (IPGRC 2022)
EditorsTanja Poppelreuter
Place of PublicationSalford
PublisherUniversity of Salford
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9781912337644
Publication statusPublished - 12 May 2023
EventIPGRC 2022: Resilience in Research and Practice - University of Salford, Salford, United Kingdom
Duration: 4 Apr 20226 Apr 2022


ConferenceIPGRC 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address

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