Kate Y. Chen, S. Thomas Ng.



Process Map of Carbon Emission Sources for Stainless Steel Construction Products



The building sector plays an indispensable role in the mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as buildings are emission-intensive to construct and operate. The GHG or carbon embodied in building materials share as much as 30% of a building’s life cycle emissions. A careful selection of building materials with low environmental impact would thus substantially lower the GHG emissions of buildings. In pursuit of low-carbon buildings, the emission figures of building materials used should be disclosed to relevant stakeholders. Until now there are many GHG emissions gauging tools available, which include the building environment assessment tools, product carbon inventories, life cycle analysis tools, etc. Nonetheless, uncertain assessment results, costly database and tedious training to master those emission assessment tools lower their popularity amongst the material manufacturer and supplier communities. The problem is aggravated when the emissions sources and principle of calculations behind these tools are not clearly revealed to users. The aim of this study is to develop a process map of the embodied carbon emissions sources for an emission-intensive building material, i.e. stainless steel, by revealing its manufacturing processes and supply chain. The process map developed in this study not only allows users to gain a clear insight of the embodied emission sources of stainless steel products but should also serve to identify potential opportunities for emission reduction.


Greenhouse gas emissions, low-carbon materials, embodied carbon


[1] Fujita, Y., Matsumoto, H. and Siong, H.C. (2009). Assessment of CO 2 emissions and resource sustainability for housing construction in Malaysia. International Journal of Low-Carbon Technologies 2009 4(1), 16-26.

[2] Fieldson, R., Rai, D., and Sodagar, B. (2009). Towards a framework for early estimation of lifecycle carbon footprint of buildings in the UK. Construction Information Quarterly, 11(2), pp 66-75. ISSN 1469-4891.

[3] González, M.J. and Navarro, J.G. (2006). Assessment of the decrease of CO2 emissions in the construction field through the selection of materials: Practical case study of three houses of low environmental impact. Building and Environment (41), 902-909.

[4] Monahan, J. and Powell, J.C. (2011). An embodied carbon and energy analysis of modern methods of construction in housing: A case study using a lifecycle assessment framework, Energy and Buildings, 43(1), 179-188.

[5] Chau, C.K., Yik, F.W.H., Hui, W.K., Liu, H.C. and Yu, H.K. (2007). Environmental impacts of building materials and building services components for commercial buildings in Hong Kong, Journal of Cleaner Production, 15(18), 1840-1851.

[6] Ng, S.T., Chen, Y. and Wong, J. M.W. (2013). Variability of building environmental assessment tools on evaluating carbon emissions. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 38, 131-141.

[7] Kenny, T. and Gray, N.F. (2009). Comparative performance of six carbon footprint models for use in Ireland, Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 29(1), 1-6.

[8] International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF) (2012a). Applications for Stainless Steel Long Products: A guide to unlocking all the properties of stainless, Retrieved on 29 Jan. 2014 from http://www.worldstainless.org/Files/issf/non-image-files/PDF/ISSF_Applications_for_Stainless_Steel_Long_Products.pdf.

[9] Yan., H., Shen, Q., Fan, L.C.H., Wang, Y. and Zhang, L. (2010). Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Building Construction: A Case Study of One Peking in Hong Kong. Building and Environment (45), 949-955.

[10] EMSD (2006). Consultancy Study on Life Cycle Energy Analysis of Building Construction: Final Report. Consultancy Agreement No. CAO L013. Hong Kong Electrical and Mechanical Service Department.

[11] Chen, T.Y., Burnett, J. and Chau, C.K. (2001). Analysis of embodied energy use in the residential building of Hong Kong, Energy, 26(4), 323-340.

[12] International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF) (2015). Stainless steel and CO2: Facts and scientific observations. Retrieved on 25 Feb. 2016 from http://www.worldstainless.org/Files/issf/non-image-files/PDF/ISSF_Stainless_steel_and_co2.pdf.

[13] Hammond, G. and Jones, C. (2008). Inventory of Carbon and Energy (ICE) Version 1.6a, Sustainable Energy Research Team (SERT), Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Bath, UK.

[14] International Iron and Steel Institute (IISI) (2002). World steel life cycle inventory - IISI methodology report. Brussels: International Iron and Steel Institute.

[15] Strezov, L. and Herbertson J. (2006) A Life Cycle Perspective on Steel Building Materials. Australian Steel Institute. Retrieved on 03 Feb. 2014 from http://www.onesteel.com/images/db_images/pages/page20_Life_Cycle_Perspective_on_Steel_Building_Materials.pdf.

[16] Natural Resources Canada (NRC). (2007). Benchmarking energy intensity in the Canadian steel industry: Prepared for Canada Steel Producers Association and Natural Resources Canada.

[17] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) (2012). Available and Emerging Technologies for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from the Iron and Steel Industry. Prepared by the Sector Policies and Programs Division Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Retrieved on 06 Feb 2014 from https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-12/documents/ironsteel.pdf.

[18] Papp, J.F. (1995). Chromium Life Cycle Study. United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Mines. Information Circular 1994.

[19] Ecobalance Inc. (2000). Life Cycle Assessment of Nickel Products: Final Report. Prepared for Nickel Industry LCA Group.

Cite this paper

Kate Y. Chen, S. Thomas Ng. (2017) Process Map of Carbon Emission Sources for Stainless Steel Construction Products. International Journal of Environmental Science, 2, 96-100


Copyright © 2017 Author(s) retain the copyright of this article.
This article is published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0