Developing a model for carbon neutral settlements: A mine site village case study
Goodfield, David (2015) Developing a model for carbon neutral settlements: A mine site village case study. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.
The built environment in Australia is responsible for around 40 percent of the nations’ greenhouse gases. Consequently carbon neutral buildings and precincts are areas of increasing interest to sustainability practitioners and researchers.
This thesis focuses on mine site village development as a contribution to an Australian Research Council research project entitled “Decarbonising Cities and Regions.” It dissects the many areas of carbon emissions attributable to the construction and operation of a typical mine site village, how this carbon footprint can be reduced to a point of carbon neutrality, and how the process could be applied to other built formats. The scientific literature was found to be essentially silent on the issue of sustainability and carbon footprint of this type of built form.
Several research questions were posited regarding the carbon footprint: what are its constituents for a typical mine site village, how can it be calculated and substantially reduced or become ‘carbon neutral’? After deducting the effects of energy efficiencies and behaviour change programs what effect does the introduction of renewable energy have in both standalone and grid connected configurations? After all aforementioned reductions what proportion remains to be offset by the introduction of accredited offset purchases?
A conceptual model was designed to delineate the components of the village’s carbon footprint. These were the carbon emissions from: embodied energy of the built form; energy required to operate the village; transport of supplies to the village; fly-in/fly-out access by employees of the mine; water supply and waste water treatment; food production, and; solid waste disposal. The model was applied to a mine site village in Western Australia.
A life cycle analysis tool, eTool™, was used to determine the embodied energy of the built form and services infrastructure for village life spans of 5, 10, 15 and 20 years. A comprehensive on-site energy monitoring system was set up to measure the village’s fossil fuelled operational energy; village deliveries were assessed on site; fly-in/fly-out emissions were calculated according to site visits and researched emissions from air travel; desalinated water and waste water treatment energy was monitored; and food consumption and solid waste were estimated. In addition a significant energy efficiency experiment was carried out to test a thermal ceramic coating applied to a typical mine site accommodation module (donga).
Methods to reduce carbon emissions were made by applying energy efficiencies and behaviour change to camp infrastructure and occupants, followed by determining potential penetration into the power generation system of appropriate renewable energy systems, and finally the purchase of accredited carbon sequestrating offsets.
Significant results can be summarized: total village carbon footprints for the life spans 5 to 20 years were calculated to be between 3233 and 2424 tonnes CO2-e per annum respectively, equating to 19 to 14.4 tonnes CO2-e per village worker annum, equivalent to the average Australian’s domestic carbon footprint to which they would contribute when they return home. In terms of net present costing converting the village energy system to a standalone type gave a clear financial advantage to the owners in averting the capital expenditure of connecting the village to mine site generation plant. With a maximum penetration of 71 percent into the village’s 1.09MWh energy consumption per annum the carbon reduction was small in terms of the village’s overall footprint. The donga coating experiment resulted in a 10 percent saving in air conditioning energy consumption.
A generic model, LEVI (Low Energy Village Infrastructure) was developed in the form of an Excel workbook to provide a systematic method to calculate the carbon footprint of a built environment similar to that of a mine site village, such as caravan parks, remote tourism resorts, retirement villages, military camps, Aboriginal settlements and isolated research stations. LEVI was then applied specifically to the case study mine site village.
Further research is required to evaluate the potential of alternative village design and operation, for example, by means of comprehensive cost-benefit analysis or multi-criteria assessment of options. Isolated examples exist in the literature and this thesis highlights areas where so much more could be achieved in the vein of carbon reduction in the built environment.
|Publication Type:||Thesis (PhD)|
|Murdoch Affiliation:||School of Engineering and Information Technology|
|Supervisor:||Ho, Goen and Anda, Martin|
|Item Control Page|
Downloads per month over past year