How Decarbonization of Buildings Can Combat Climate Change

One thing became evident when life came to a halt in 2020: the planet could finally breathe. Consumers discovered solutions to reduce their carbon footprint at home, resulting in a 7% reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions.

The emphasis on climate change should not lessen when life returns to normal. Now is the moment to reimagine the cities and concentrate on updating the structures in which people spend so much of their time.

Environmental Impact Assessment

Cities handle approximately two-thirds of the CO2 emissions, causing global warming. Due to their high day-to-day energy demand and the carbon released during their manufacturing and construction processes, buildings account for almost 40% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.

With climate change intensifying, we must decarbonize our buildings by designing next-generation, more brilliant structures that will aid in the fight against climate change and preserve our planet.

The construction ecosystem has a significant impact on the environment through additional pathways. These include the vast amounts of waste produced (600.33 million US tons) and high water consumption (about 200 liters of water consumed per cubic meter of concrete). And particulate matter (PM), or air pollution, in cities.

Over the last 100 years, global GHG emissions have climbed significantly, and the globe has continued to warm. Major flooding events, high heat, and agricultural degradation are rising due to climate change, with well-documented environmental impacts.

The Role of the Building Industry in Global Emissions

Raw-material processing for buildings and infrastructure accounts for 30% of construction emissions per year. Cement and steel and building operations are the primary sources of GHG emissions from the construction ecosystem (70 percent).

If you want to reach climate-change mitigation targets by 2050, you can’t wait to replace items at the end of their life cycle, given median asset lifetimes of 30 to 130 years. There is a great need—and opportunity—to retrofit existing assets, with nearly 80% of the estimated building stock for 2050 already existing today.

Raw materials contribute over 7% of world GHG emissions, mainly through energy-intensive cement production and metals (approximately 50% of global steel output is utilized for construction).

Commercial and residential building activities contribute to space and water heating within buildings and heat leakage due to poor insulation. It includes other energy usages, such as lighting, air conditioning, and appliances

The most crucial aspect in determining GHG emissions over the life of a structure is its design. Most decisions affecting the project’s GHG emissions have already been made when construction begins. Early in a project, before construction begins, the capacity to impact a building’s lifetime emissions is most significant.

Fundamental design choices, such as new construction versus renovation, building size and shape, insulation level, and floor-space flexibility, can impact emissions.

If left unchecked, the building ecosystem’s carbon production would rise over the next 30 years as we try to fulfill the demands of a growing population and urbanization. On the plus side, this creates chances to optimize new construction, while a concurrent transition toward renewable energy will assist in reducing emissions.

The requirement to eliminate annual emissions to meet the 1.5-degree warming target of the Paris Agreement in 2016 remains critical. With power-system decarbonization results in a reduction in emissions by 2050.

Final Thoughts

The public and private sectors should make decarbonizing cities and buildings a top goal.

It must be carried out at a large size, rapidly, and with an integrated approach. We must raise the standard for sustainability in our structures to keep our planet healthy. Companies can reduce emissions, limit global warming, and reach ambitious climate objectives by taking action now.

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