Overall Carbon Cost of Slab vs Piers
My partner and I are in the early process of building a ~1000 sqft off-grid cabin in the western Catskills (CZ5 or CZ6). We are aiming to keep the embodied CO2 for the build as low as possible (as well as the ongoing electricity draw to heat the cabin during our cold winters). We’re on a tight budget, but we’ll gladly spend a little more money now to save money in ongoing costs or repairs later. We’re considering radiant flooring rather than minisplits or heat pumps, as the cabin will be airtight.
We are deciding on choice of foundation currently, based on the above rubric.
My question is: I understand that Concrete is terrible for the environment and very high in embodied CO2, but when you sum up the CO2 embodied in the complicated layers of insulation that the floor profile above Piers requires in cold climates (see here: https://www.buildingscience.com/documents/insights/bsi-031-building-in-extreme-cold), and the extra heat loss due to wind passing underneath the raised floor (and thus, more heating & electricity draw required inside living space?), is a Concrete slab still dramatically worse in total carbon cost (embodied and ongoing)?
I’m looking for something ~akin to a lifecycle analysis (LCA, cradle to grave) of these two scenarios that clearly shows that carbon differential?
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