Carbon Footprint of Humanitarian Shelter: A Case Study of Relief and Construction Materials Used In Haiti

This thesis looks at the humanitarian industry’s environmental sustainability and possible ways to reduce its carbon footprint, with a focus on emergency shelter in post-disaster situations. The study draws on a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods including a literature review, interviews, a life cycle assessment of emergency shelter materials and a case study. The findings of the qualitative study indicate that environmental sustainability issues are gaining prominence in the humanitarian industry, but much is still to be done to mainstream sound environmental practices. Focusing on the embodied carbon of typical shelter materials, the study attempted to quantify the amount of carbon emitted by the humanitarian industry in the provision of emergency shelter after a natural disaster. The 2010 Haiti Earthquake operation was selected as a case study and the total embodied carbon of shelter materials used in the Haiti Earthquake response was estimated at 199,737 tCO2e, which is nearly equal to the annual emissions of the host country. Most importantly, the analysis found that opportunities exist throughout the life cycle of a material to reduce carbon emissions.