Housing contributes substantially to greenhouse gas emissions. This occurs directly through emissions from materials used during construction, and indirectly through energy consumption during the use-phase. Efforts have been exerted across the construction industry to adopt greener, more sustainable practices. However, there have been no established guidelines for tackling such a vital issue in Egypt and other developing countries. This work examines current practices applied in the design and construction of middle-income housing in the country as a proxy for other building sectors and explores practical solutions that can lead to more sustainable developments. This work also proposes a dynamic model for the assessment and analysis of the carbon footprint of residential buildings in Egypt. The model, naturally, could be challenged, further examined and validated. This work reveals that efficiencies in construction are responsible for the largest share of potential savings in the earlier years of a building’s lifetime when compared to use-phase savings (57-43% by year 1). On the other hand, use-phase savings accumulate as a result of efficiencies in housing elements, contributing 97% of total potential savings by the end of a building’s 50-year lifetime. The estimated social cost of potential carbon savings in the Egyptian middle-income housing sector over the past 12 years is found to be LE 10.84 Billion in current monetary terms, implying potential annual savings approaching LE 1 Billion. The savings across other building sectors are multiples more. This work recommends the following configuration for construction: ready-mix concrete with type F admixtures, steel production through the EAF route, and fly ash bricks as building blocks. This can lead to a reduction of 30% of emissions relative to conventional construction practices. It similarly recommends the following configuration for the use-phase: LEDs instead of incandescent bulbs, Energy Star electrical appliances including electrical water heaters, substitution of single-glazed windows to low-e double-glazed, and shading of all exterior walls. This can lead to a decrease of 49% of emissions relative to conventional use-phase practices. No incentives are currently present to direct industry stakeholders towards the adoption of sustainable practices. This is noticeably evident in the housing sector where there is a very clear detachment in economic interests between developers and homeowners. Government intervention is desperately needed – through public awareness campaigns, and through the issuance and enforcement of a number of legislations – to accelerate the adoption and implementation of the sustainable practices identified in this work.

Degree Name

MS in Construction Engineering

Graduation Date


Submission Date

May 2015

First Advisor

Abou-Zeid, Mohamed Nagib

Committee Member 1

Bahnsawy, Heba

Committee Member 2

Nassar, Khaled


138 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Library of Congress Subject Heading 1

Building materials -- Egypt.

Library of Congress Subject Heading 2

Carbon offsetting -- Egypt.


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Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Approval has been obtained for this item


I will always be thankful to several people without whose help I would have not been able to complete this thesis. Each has had a positive impact in making my dream of a graduate degree come true. I am thankful to Prof. Dr. Mohamed Nagib Abou-Zeid for his patience and guidance. He has been very generous with his knowledge, and his trust in my abilities has made my journey more rewarding. It has been a pleasure working under his supervision. I respectfully acknowledge the input of my two other examiners: Dr. Heba Bahnsawy and Dr. Khaled Nassar. Their insightful additions have made the findings of this work more complete. I am grateful to my parents, brother, sister and grandparents. I have felt their love and prayers throughout my academic career. They have and always will be my backbone. Finally, I would like to thank my husband for his constant care, support and advice. His presence made it easier for me to move forward and he has been my greatest source of encouragement. I will always be thankful for his sincere efforts to see me grow.