Sustainability In Buildings: An Overview
Greenhouse gas emissions are directly responsible for causing climate change. Once released in the atmosphere, they absorb the heat from the sun and hold it for long periods. As a result, the temperature of the Earth gradually rises. So, greenhouse gases (GHG) like carbon dioxide and methane are the agents responsible for global warming.
A lot of human activities are responsible for GHG emissions, including transportation and construction. Activities associated with buildings and construction sector accounts for around 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Consequently, many organizations are realising the need for including sustainability in buildings.
From the 40% global share, the construction of buildings causes one-fourth of the GHG emissions while building operations like heating and lighting also put a lot of strain on energy sources. In this article, we will understand the reasons behind these high amounts of emissions and some measures using which organizations are integrating sustainability in buildings.
Why Do We Need Sustainability in Buildings?
Currently, the global economy is dependent heavily on fossil fuels like coal for energy. The energy released by the combustion of fossil fuels is extremely high and is used to power everything, from vehicles and batteries to airplanes and buildings. Fossil fuels, however, produce tonnes of GHG emissions. There is a conscious effort from various organizations to replace fossil fuels with cleaner modes of energy like solar energy and wind energy.
Buildings, too, are currently dependent on the power generated via coal power plants. Typically, fossil fuels provide energy to a building in each step of its life cycle, which includes planning, construction, operation, maintenance, and destruction. For instance, the tools and vehicles used during construction run on oil and the manufacturing of building materials is highly energy-intensive.
During its operation and maintenance, a traditional building requires electricity produced using coal and oil. Whereas, sustainability in buildings requires buildings to minimize their impact on the environment. Let us understand how builders and manufacturers are adopting principles of sustainability in buildings.
Achieving Sustainability in Buildings
- Smart architecture: With clever planning, the need for consuming energy itself can be reduced. Many builders use 3-D models to calculate the placement of the windows. This encourages natural lighting and daylighting to save energy. Similarly, designers consciously try to eliminate air leakage in their building plans to reduce the use of heating appliances. Some measures include cool roofs and extra insulation in walls.
- Onsite energy generation: Another way to promote sustainability in buildings is by employing onsite energy generation via solar panels and solar power systems. It not only reduces energy bills but also optimizes energy consumption.
Additionally, generating renewable energy is highly sustainable and has a minimal impact on the environment. This energy is produced via solar energy, wind power, biomass, etc., and drastically reduces GHG emissions associated with buildings.
- Green materials: Green materials are becoming popular among builders. These materials are renewable and recyclable, and their use minimizes the impact of buildings on the environment. Some examples of these materials are lumbar, bamboo and hempcrete. Improving material efficiency is one of the major ongoing efforts in the industry. This reduces the amount of waste produced while manufacturing the building materials and furthers sustainability in buildings.
Build a Better Tomorrow With Reputed Brands
The threat of climate change needs to be addressed urgently. Individuals, companies, and governments need to cooperate and work towards a future that is viable and sustainable. Reputed brands have repeatedly demonstrated that they support sustainability by encouraging sustainability practices and paving the way for climate change mitigation.
Schneider Electric is one such firm that is assisting its clients in making the transition to green energy. With their advanced technology and IoT-enabled devices; building owners and operators can employ big data and AI to significantly reduce operating costs and boost productivity by addressing space management, operational efficiency, and occupant experience.