Buildings have a big impact on climate change
Our buildings take up more than 40% of our global energy usage and contribute a third of our greenhouse gas emissions. This is true both for developed and developing regions of the world.
Most of these emissions come from the ongoing energy consumption in the buildings – electricity, lighting, heating and cooling. However, some non-CO2 emissions come from buildings too, like halocarbons. In the past, most emissions came from developed countries, but developing countries are catching up fast and it’s expected that emissions from buildings in newly-emerging countries will soon outstrip those from developed nations.
Civil engineering can play a huge role in combating climate change
The civil engineering and building sector are in a position to deliver significant, long-term reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Civil engineering companies like Lagan Construction Group are leading the way by using new technologies and techniques in their projects. These innovative new methods can reduce the ongoing energy consumption in buildings by up to 80% and the good news is that these methods can be used both in developed and developing countries.
Buildings are built to last
Once a building is up, the plan is for it to stay there for a while! This means that methods and techniques used in its construction will carry on paying environmental dividends for at least decades to come.
More than 80% of a building’s greenhouse emissions come from the phase when it’s in use – a busy office, a happy family home; the remainder of the emissions are created when it’s being built, renovated and then when it’s being demolished. By targeting the so-called operational phase, the time when the lights and the air-con are on, great reductions in CO2 can be achieved.
Older buildings still in their operational phase can be retrofitted, and new buildings can be made with environmental considerations. This is especially important in developing economies, as these areas will be building more structures than ever before.
Governments can help too
Governments have a role to play in making sure new buildings look to the future. They have to make the building and civil engineering sectors a priority in their climate change strategies and plans.
Each countries government can help its building sector by introducing credible, achievable and measurable energy performance standards and targets. There should also be training provided so that there are technicians and assessors who can assess the energy performance of buildings and make sure all available technologies and methods are used. Education is also key, with all parts of the building sector becoming engaged and motivated to reach emissions targets.
It’s good for the economy
If emissions from buildings are reduced then it’s good for the economy and the people in it. Globally, the building, renovation and maintenance of buildings – commercial and domestic – is around 25% of a country’s GDP and employs around 10% of the populace. By introducing extra measures to make buildings greener, there’s huge potential for new employment and new businesses to serve these drives and development goals.