It is now becoming increasingly important for construction experts to cut down their carbon footprint and design buildings that are sustainable and economical. Many countries are implementing stringent measures to curb carbon emissions like the New York government’s Local Law 97 -LL97.
In today’s time, showing that you’re doing your part for the environment gives people assurance that you are not in the business of making money only.
Let’s first see what building emissions is after all
Building Emissions or Carbon Footprint
In a nutshell, a building’s carbon footprint or emissions is the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) that it produces every day such as water, waste, and energy. Anything that is flowing in and out of the building is known as carbon emissions and reducing a building’s carbon footprint will reduce costs and sends a clear message that you are taking environmental responsibility seriously.
So, before you work on any project, make sure to plan properly in the initial phase because by proper planning during the design phase you can accomplish a good project which can reduce carbon emissions and eliminate resource wastage by the time when the building gets ready to operate.
Therefore, planning about proper insulation, paving of natural lighting/daylighting and shading can greatly decrease the need for energy use later on. Remember, if you plan everything in the design phase, you don’t have to go through the renovation phase at all.
So, if your building is in need of renovation or upgrades, or if you’re going to construct a new one, then this is an excellent time to make some improvements and leave less of a carbon footprint:
Make Use of Renewable Energy
Constructing large buildings can be more environmentally friendly by adopting renewable energy technologies, in which solar power is the fastest-growing technique. Did you know that the Sun reportedly delivers a tremendous amount of energy to Earth in one hour than humans consume during a year? Go for solar air heating, solar electric photovoltaic (PV) systems or solar water heating installed on a building’s walls or roof to eliminate conventional energy requirements.
Replacement of Lighting
Lighting can account for over 40% of the energy used in a typical commercial building, so it’s evident to start when looking at reducing energy costs. First and the best tip is to look at the ways of increasing natural light, which undoubtedly creates a more comfortable working environment. Then comes the LED lighting which typically saves 50-70% energy compared to conventional lighting. Open offices with a light-colored interior, high-performance curtainwall systems with built-in sunshades, and light shelves help to spread daylight throughout the structure and can aid in increasing natural light. If technically implemented, choosing daylighting methods can minimize HVAC peak loads, resulting in lower mechanical equipment capacity and a lower carbon footprint.
Monitor Water Usage
Another major factor contributing to a building’s carbon footprint is the supply, usage, and treatment of water. So, the building’s plumbing work should be leak-proof and well maintained to avoid any wastage of water. You can also take a step further by considering the technology such as high-efficiency toilets which reduce water usage by lessening average flush volumes. Water conservation, efficiency, and reuse are the most cost-effective and comprehensive methods of reducing carbon emissions and energy. Since rainwater is an excellent source of water, install water-saving fixtures and appliances in outdoor areas that rely significantly on rainfall for irrigation. It is a known fact that rainwater harvesting and xeriscaping can cut outdoor water consumption by up to 50%.
Look to source recycled building materials when constructing (for example – steel is the most recycled material) and look for green suppliers who embrace environmentally friendly practices. This practice doesn’t just apply to the construction of the building, but can also transcend to the day-to-day operation of the business. For instance, go for re-usable pens where you can add just more ink rather than throw away hundreds a year and avoid paper use and go digital.