America saw the hottest year in 2016. Recent research has brought to light how it is the buildings that are fundamentally responsible for 40% of GHG emissions. Statistically speaking, buildings are responsible for 39% of carbon dioxide emissions as per the US Green Building Council. Devising a strategy to counter the same is the inevitable next step but to be able to holistically and consequentially achieve it mandates truly understanding what exactly is the carbon footprint of a building. Therefore, if the real estate and buildings sector/industry gets actively involved, then climate change can be hopefully countered substantially.
Be intersectional because the buildings are intersectional
It’s crucial to understand that the buildings sector cannot be perceived in isolation because it’s intersectional and/or directly tied with other sectors such as transportation, architecture, etc. As per LEED, reducing embodied carbon emissions (Carbon generated through manufacturing, Building materials, Transportation, and Construction) is a tangible way to control the emissions.
So, what is a green building and how does it help?
A green building is one that in its construction or operation process is conscious bout eliminating the negative impacts it potentially has on the environment. Not just that, it goes the extra mile in making abundant efforts to ensure that the building in effect has a positive impact on the environment, of course, but also its inhabitants or residents… or even passers-by. Yes, it’s possible! Green buildings are designed in a manner that preserves natural resources and adds positively to the quality of life. This is primarily because green buildings tend to generate fewer greenhouse gases, which is accomplished because of the following features that the green buildings are laden with:-
Green planning, structure, design, construction, operations
Utilizing renewables and/or alternatives vis-a-vis material selections (half the battle is won here)
Energy optimization with regard to power, HVAC, systems, and logistics, water, indoor air quality
Location; extremely underrated but where you decide to situate your building makes a huge impact in a) how sustainable the building can be, potentially b) the designated strategy for it
Proper emphasis is on waste minimization as well
Green technology: the beautiful intersection of green architecture and green technology is best exhibited in green buildings. Internet of Things makes for the best example.
A green building also consciously works towards enhancing the natural environment with trees, terrace gardens, green roofs, and also community gardens. These surely are the obvious ones, doesn’t stop them from being the lowest hanging fruit nonetheless.
It’s also increasingly important for the building owners to approach making a building green as an investment - in the environment, health, and longevity of the building, yes but also fiscally. The ROI or S-ROI (sustainable ROI, which is the new thing) is much higher. The initial investment might seem a lot but most tend to pay for themselves in a year or two.
Image source: freethink.com