Low-carbon buildings are buildings designed and constructed to release very little or no carbon at all during their lifetime.
Buildings alone are responsible for 38% of all human GHG emissions (20% residential, 18% commercial).
It is the industrial sector which contributes the most to global warming (U.S. EPA. 2008).But according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it is also the sector which presents the most cost effective opportunities for GHG reductions.( IPCC. 2007).Low-carbon buildings (LCB) are buildings which are specifically engineered with GHG reduction in mind. So by definition, a LCB is a building which emits significantly less GHG than regular buildings.
There is no emissions threshold under which a building would qualify as a LCB. But to be genuinely “Climate Change neutral”, a LCB would have to achieve at least 80% GHG reduction compared to traditional buildings. According to the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, our emissions would have to be reduced by 80% compared to current levels in order not to exceed the Earth’s natural capacity to remove GHG from the atmosphere.
By comparison, a regular building releases about 5,000 kgCO2e/m2 during its entire lifetime (though it varies a lot, depending on the project type and where it is located).
What actions do you propose?
Strategies adopted by LCB to reduce GHG emissions during construction include:
- Reduce quantity of materials used
- Select materials with low emissions factors associated (e.g., recycled materials)
- Select materials suppliers as close as possible from the const
- Divert demolition wastes to recycling instead of landfills or incineration
Strategies adopted by LCB to reduce GHG emissions during operation include:
- Reduce energy consumption
- Switch to renewable energy sources
Renewable energy sources include:
- Low-impact hydro
- Biofuels (under certain conditions)
- Wave and tidal
Desirable actions for Citizens
”Eco-participation,” “eco-thinking,” and “eco-sharing”
Citizens are encouraged to be actively involved in the creation of a low-carbon society based on the consciousness that human beings are a part of ecosystem and are also main actors to create coexistence society, as well as to offer a variety of ideas to reduce carbon emissions and communicate and share these ideas.
Practice “eco-learning,” “eco-buying,” “eco-use,” and “eco-disposal.”
Citizens need to follow an environmentally friendly lifestyle where they have accurate knowledge of the global warming issue and respect for nature, as well as other people, and assume responsibility for the next generation. Citizens also pay for use of the Earth’s limited resources such as GHG emission through carbon offset system
Indirect GHG reductions
There are three main sources of indirect GHG reductions available for buildings:
- Green power
- Carbon offsets
- GHG reductions from the selling to the grid of clean electricity produced on-site
Low-carbon buildings today
LCB, as part of “green buildings”, are developing very rapidly. Recent examples include:
- Aldo Leopold Foundation Headquarters, Fairfield (USA)
- Kroon Hall, Yale University’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (USA)
- Sustainable Energy Technology Center, The University of Nottingham, NingBo (China)
- Mud Decisions, Bangalore (India)
Who will take these actions?
The key actors are:
Governments, Local Government, Municipalities, Industries, Architects, Builders, Communities and Individual.
Where will these actions be taken?
How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?
LCB usually achieve less than 10 kgCO2e/m2 per year.
What are other key benefits?
The key benefits are:
- Carbon-sink and low-carbon building materials and products offer a key mitigation option from the building sector while contributing to social and economic development, especially in developing countries.
- Carbon sink and low carbon materials substitute conventional carbon intensive materials and reduce their demand.
- Buildings last for long time, sustainable harvested wood products used in buildings offer alongterm preservation and a sink for the carbon absorbed in the wood products.
- When stringent regulations are put in place for sources of harvested wood products, the demand for sustainably managed forests will increase
- More carbon can be absorbed from the atmosphere and more green jobs can be created, in both the building and forestry sectors, contributing to the green economy.
- Supports the development of local industries, which in turn provide jobs for local residents.
What are the proposal’s costs?
Proposal’s costs a million to a billion Dollars,and depending on the nature and type of construction.
Depending on nature of construction. Generally, 1-5 years baseline survey, 6-15 years construction and above 15 years cost benefit analysis.
IPCC. 2007. Climate Change 2007 Synthesis Report, p. 59.
The Stern Review, Final Report, Chapter 8.
U.S. EPA. 2008. Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gases Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2006, p. ES8.