New Information on CO2 Emission Calculation for Industrial Construction Projects

Industrial construction projects differ significantly from residential and office construction, even from the perspective of emissions calculation. In her article, Fimpec’s expert, Mila Viksilä, discusses the groundwork provided by Fimpec’s research for calculating the carbon footprint and carbon handprint of these projects.

Interest in calculating CO2 emissions for construction projects is rapidly increasing as we approach 2025, when the building law reform will require climate assessments for construction projects. However, there is still limited research data and guidance available, especially concerning industrial construction.

Therefore, at Fimpec, we wanted to explore the fundamentals of CO2 emissions calculation for industrial construction projects and practically test the suitability of a modern life cycle modeling program for this purpose. The research on this topic was conducted by Mari Sippu, a Bachelor of Engineering in Energy Technology, as part of her thesis at Xamk (South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences). I, along with Antti Laine, supervised her thesis. My role was to support Mari in matters related to calculations, while Laine assisted her with the theoretical aspects.As part of the work, CO2 emissions were calculated for a large industrial site and, for comparison, a residential apartment building. The data for the calculations were obtained from our own documents and the necessary material information from BIM models.

The results clearly demonstrate a significant difference between basic property construction and industrial construction projects from the perspective of CO2 emissions calculation. This difference is mainly due to the larger masses and greater use of steel/iron in industrial construction, resulting in higher CO2 emissions compared to similar-sized residential construction. In the example project, approximately half of the emissions came from calculated energy consumption, while the other half came from manufacturing and construction. The share of emissions from material manufacturing was 41 percent.

Baseline for Future Calculations

The emission calculations we conducted at Fimpec as part of this research provide essential baseline data for our Carbon Emission Management service. Measuring actual emissions provides a baseline for the calculations of future projects. This allows us to compare the CO2 emissions of a new project to these figures and make choices to address the carbon footprint early in the project, reducing it through material choices and designs, for example.

Currently, the comparison of results is limited because emission limits for construction have not been published. Therefore, it cannot be determined whether the measured values are high or low. These limits or climate assessments are unlikely to apply to industrial construction, which has also been exempt from energy certification requirements. However, we want to contribute to and enable the reduction of climate impacts in this sector whenever the client sees the need.

Building Knowledge and Life Cycle Assessment Expertise Required for Calculations

An important part of the work was to investigate the suitability of the One Click LCA life cycle modeling software for emission calculations by using it for the emissions calculation of example projects. This software was not primarily intended for industrial construction but proved to be suitable for this purpose as well. One Click LCA software was chosen because there are no software options specifically designed for industrial construction.

The advantages of the software include its visual appeal, clarity, and extensive reporting capabilities. It provides carbon footprint and carbon handprint calculation reports for projects, information on materials that have the most significant emissions impact, and visual breakdowns of the environmental impacts of different components. It also offers an assessment of potential sources of errors in the calculations.

From the perspective of industrial construction, it is important to consider that current databases and guidelines are better suited for residential and office construction than for industrial construction. Challenges arise from handling large volumes of data typically associated with industrial construction, obtaining sufficiently precise energy data, interpreting floor area and the number of floors, and determining which equipment and components from the BIM models are included in the calculations.

An important conclusion related to this is presented by Sippu in her thesis: conducting the calculations and interpreting the results require knowledge of building technology and life cycle assessment. At Fimpec, we possess such expertise and have experience with software use, making CO2 emission calculation services a natural addition to our operations.

Author Mila Viksilä works as an expert in Fimpec’s cost management team, specializing in carbon footprint calculations and digital solutions.

For more information on Fimpec’s Carbon Emission Management service:

Johan Appelqvist, Chief Operating Officer, Cost Management, Fimpec PMO
Phone: +358 50 466 0907, Email: johan.appelqvist(at)

Read these next