The Importance of Sustainable Buildings
Updated: Jan 23, 2020
Why is it so important to strive to design and create more sustainable buildings?
"Globally, embodied carbon is responsible for 11% of annual GHG emissions and 28% of building sector emissions. As operational energy efficiency increases, the impact of embodied carbon emissions in buildings will become increasingly significant. We cannot meet climate goals without also eliminating embodied carbon emissions by 2050. "
- Architecture 2030
"In addition to the unprecedented growth in the global building sector, nearly two-thirds of the building area that exist today will still exist in 2050. Therefore, any transition to low-carbon/carbon neutral built environment must address both new construction and existing buildings."- Architecture 2030
GHG: (also known as greenhouse gas) is any gas in the atmosphere which absorbs and re-emits heat, and thereby keeps the planet's atmosphere warmer than it otherwise would be. The main GHGs in the Earth's atmosphere are water vapor, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and ozone.
Embodied Carbon: refers to carbon dioxide emitted during the manufacture, transport and construction of building materials, together with end of life emissions. So for example, if you are specifying concrete on a project then carbon will have been emitted making that concrete.
As we go about our daily lives, living and working in the comfort of buildings we often forget what kind of impact those buildings can have on our planet. By building more sustainable buildings and updating existing buildings to be more sustainable we can cut down on the amount of energy consumed by them.
What are some small ways to cut down on energy consumed by our buildings and the processes that create products for buildings?
Heating, Cooling, and Lighting are 3 of the main ways that buildings are consuming energy. There are ways to reduce these such as:
- Providing renewable non-carbon based energy to the building.
Examples of: Non-carbon based energy on buildings
- Up-cycling used items
- Using daylight and light colored walls so that the light will be spread around and there is less of a need for artificial lighting.
Daylighting and light paint
- Adding insulation and carpeting to cut down on the amount of hot or cold air that escapes.
- Choosing strong, durable furnishings, that won't need to be replaced often and choosing traditional items that are timeless rather than items that are temporarily trendy.
- Choosing products made from recycled materials.
- Recycling and Composting items that would usually be thrown out in the trash.
- Choosing modular carpets and furnishings that allow you to make changes and part replacements without replacing the items in their entirety.
Examples of modular furnishings: