Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering


Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Vinka Craver


Retrofitting existing buildings has been identified as an essential strategy to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the building sector. This study examines the environmental and financial performance of different retrofitting strategies that aim to reduce the GHG emissions of a model single-family building in Rhode Island using Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).

The LCA shows that retrofitting strategies can reduce the GWP by up to 41 % over the remaining service life while saving more than $ 28,000 over that period. This can be achieved through installing programmable thermostats and scheduled temperature setpoints, air sealing the building, installing a more efficient boiler and air-conditioning units (AC units), and insulating walls and the attic. Installing programmable thermostats has been identified to lead to the biggest reduction in global warming potential (GWP) while saving the most money. The operational phase of the building accounts for more than 97 % of the GHG emissions over the lifetime of the building. Thus, reducing operational energy demand has a priority before starting to reduce embodied emissions for the type of building examined in this study.

Very high heating and low cooling setpoints can almost completely offset the reductions in GWP through retrofitting while coming with significant extra costs. This highlights the importance of the inhabitant’s space conditioning habits regarding the environmental performance of a building.

The results support decision-making by homeowners who contemplate retrofitting their building and raise awareness of the potential of retrofitting existing buildings.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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