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Green Building is a Promising Solution for Construction Carbon Footprint

by | Mar 17, 2022 | Community

Never before have there been so many of us. Population growth is booming and the world is so much in motion creating more and more demand for living space. The world is also under pressure from human activity and climate change.

Architects, urban planners and engineers around the world are looking for answers to some of the most pressing questions of our time, how we as citizens of our planet can live together happily in the future.

Buildings, roads and bridges all rely on materials such as concrete and steel which contribute a lot to CO2 emissions. Buildings are responsible for nearly 40% of the world’s CO2 emissions annually and also account for about 40% of the world’s energy consumption.

Residential buildings require large amounts of power and water to keep occupants comfortable. Hence, what if we could dramatically reduce our energy consumption just by changing the way we build our office buildings and skyscrapers? Let’s explore green buildings.

Green buildings are designed and built to create positive impacts on the environment and climate. It combines energy efficiency and renewable energy to reduce power consumption, benefit the environment and improve the quality of life of occupants that live in it.

The concept of green buildings has been scaling from small houses to big offices and skyscrapers around the globe. But what exactly is green building?

What is green building?

A Green building is one that is designed, construct and operate in a way to reduce or eliminate negative impacts as well as create positive impacts on climate and the natural environment. It is an effort to mitigate negative effects throughout the entire life cycle of a building. 

Its goal is to preserve natural resources and improve the quality of life of citizens. The concept is to wisely use resources to create high-quality and more energy-efficient homes and commercial buildings through sustainable design and the environment in mind.

Sustainable design goes beyond just adding blocks one upon another, it includes efficient planning of sites, community and land use. Hence this increases the efficiency with which buildings and their sites use energy, water and materials and also reduces its impacts on human health and the environment.

Why green building is important?

The growth and development of communities around the world have a huge impact on the environment. The traditional way of manufacturing, designing, constructing and operating the buildings in which we live and work is responsible for the depletion of many natural resources.

According to the United Nations (UN), around 68% of people will live in cities by 2050. Cities occupy only 3% of the planet’s surface but consume 78% of energy and account for 60% of greenhouse gas emissions.

Hence this is why in 2016, the UN has improved its New Urban Agenda to encourage countries to make cities more habitable, inclusive, healthy, resilient and sustainable. Also with the climate crisis, more and more professionals have been focusing on energy efficiency within different industries, which can help in the progress of green buildings.

As such, experts are focusing on design, construction and large-scale manufacturing of green building projects. Hence, the widespread functionality of this type of edifice will improve the local environment and also encourage occupants to be more energy conscious.

And while doing so, those occupants inside the buildings can enjoy healthier atmospheres and a free from pollution infrastructure.

Here are several features that make a building ‘green’: 

  • Efficient consumption of energy, water and other resources
  • Use of renewable energy like solar energy or wind
  • Off-grid electricity storage to prevent wastage of energy
  • Waste reduction measures through re-use and recycling
  • Efficient waste management
  • Improve air quality by implementing trees
  • Use of sustainable materials
  • Take environment into account when designing, constructing and operating the buildings
  • Consider the quality of life of occupants when designing, constructing and operating the building
  • Design that can adapt to a changing environment
  • Protecting occupant health and improving productivity.

Hence urban planning includes the construction of eco-neighborhoods around buildings that aim to reduce environmental impacts and improve the living habits of citizens. The use of sustainable technologies and materials is key to this type of initiative. 

Green building practitioners seek not only the ecological impacts of the edifice but also the aesthetic harmony of structures and it’s surrounding nature. The implementation of buildings and trees is made in such a way that they look like one entity.

Impact of green building

With the green building concept in head, planners can enhance and protect the local ecosystems and biodiversity of the environment. When sustainable construction methods are integrated with eco-friendly design and construction can provide significant benefits. Such as:

Efficient consumption of water and energy

Green building is heavily appraised for consuming less water and energy as compared to conventional infrastructure. In the US and many other countries, green buildings achieve the LEED certification as they consume 11% less water and 25% less energy than non-sustainable buildings.

The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) points out that sustainable infrastructure results in 20 – 30% water savings and 40 – 50% energy savings compared to traditional buildings in India. Same thing in Australia where 51% of water is saved and 62% fewer greenhouse gas emissions are produced.

In South Africa, sustainable buildings have been shown to save 20 – 30% water every year and on average 30 – 40% energy.

Positive impact on natural resources

With the ever-increasing population especially in large cities, resources are being threatened as demand grows. Resources are depleting and at the same time, greenhouse emission is rising.

In terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the construction sector has the largest potential as compared to other emissions contributing sectors. The emissions savings potential is estimated to be 84 gigatonnes of CO2 by 2050. The building sector can make energy savings up to 50% or more by 2050.

Eco-friendly environment

Green building supports ecosystems by promoting the efficient use of energy, water and other resources. It also uses renewable energy, such as solar energy. Measures are usually taken for reducing pollution and waste and also enable re-use and recycling of materials.

Materials that are used are non-toxic, ethical and sustainable. According to studies, people who live in sustainable buildings experience a lot of benefits due to the eco-friendly materials utilized in construction.

Encourage alternative sources of energy

Global warming is a growing concern and our planet has seen a drastic depletion of its natural resources. Since pollution and climate change are at an all-time high, sustainable approaches are being implemented to reduce reliance on non-renewable resources like oil and coal. Green building uses solar and winds to power infrastructure which promotes and maintain a cleaner environment.

Improves Occupant Productivity

According to studies, people who live in green structures experience a lot of health benefits due to eco-friendly materials utilized in construction. Sustainable building focuses on creating infrastructures that are good for the environment but also ensure that occupants enjoy healthier, happier and more productive lives.

Improves quality of life

It’s no secret that the environment has a major impact on our health. In green buildings, the quality of life of occupants is taken into consideration by improving health and comfort.

Research suggests that better indoor air quality can lead to improvements in the performance of workers, reduce stress levels and a 101 percent increase in cognitive scores.

The main goal of green building is to make the earth more sustainable but it does go deeper than that. When going green, the goal is to sustain the environment without disrupting the natural habitats around it.

Hence when building a project, if the natural habitats around it are disrupted, it can make an impact on the wildlife and environment that will be much like a butterfly effect. As you can see, this type of building is something that everyone should jump on to make a big impact on the environment.

As mentioned before buildings represent around 40% of both global energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. While other sectors such as transport and power generation, has their blueprint for decarbonization, the action plan for the building sector to reduce carbon footprints of remains less clear.

However, green building is getting more and more attention these days as people start to see its benefits and potential. And it can play a crucial role in countries’ efforts to achieve net-zero emissions.