How Can We Reduce Carbon Footprint of a Building?

Carbon reduction is a vital issue because the emissions we release are keeping global levels in critical condition. A carbon footprint is an amount of greenhouse gases (mainly carbon dioxide) released into the atmosphere because of certain human activities. The construction industry gives up to 35 -40 % of the total emission of greenhouse gases. Built structures and construction processes cause carbon dioxide emission because of activities like mining, transportation, manufacturing of chemical products required in construction.

Carbon neutrality or having a net-zero carbon footprint is an alternative concept that works by balancing carbon emissions through removal or reduction of carbon footprint. The reduction of the building’s footprints makes the construction economical, increases its commercial value. The structure becomes healthier and comfortable to live in. The following could be ways to reduce the carbon footprint of a building-

  1. The first step of the design

At the very beginning stage of design, alternative materials and layouts can be considered and details can be redefined to make the structure environmentally friendly. It is the only time that offers the most opportunities in the reduction of carbon emission.

  1. HVAC

It involves the incorporation of most efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. These systems basically involve everything from air conditioning at residential units to the large systems used in industrial level buildings. A good HVAC system aims to provide thermal control and comfortable indoor living conditions. These are carefully calculated systems based on thermodynamics, fluid mechanics and heat transfer. It reduces the energy requirements of a building as much as half of what they would have used, hence, making the structured environment-friendly and cost efficient.

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  1. Lighting

Try to look out for the ways of increasing natural light in the building instead of using artificial

High tech lights that only adds to the costing of the building. Energy-efficient LED lights can achieve savings up to 50-60 % as compared to the old conventional type of lighting. Proper use of daylight systems can reduce HVAC loads. However, the importance of lighting depends on the site and climatic conditions of the area.

  1. Recycling

Choose recyclable or reusable materials for the construction of the building. For example glass, wood, metals, ceramic accessories can be reused in the construction. Steel products can easily be recycled which helps in the reduction of mining waste, air pollution and water pollution caused due to the manufacturing of steel. Production of steel through recycling is also significantly less than the manufacturing process.

  1. Water Systems

Designing of efficient water systems, rainwater harvesting, waste or greywater reuse systems are among the most significant, economical, carbon-reducing techniques available. Installation of efficient fixtures and appliances can help in reducing average flush water. Designing buildings for using rainwater and creating areas that are totally dependent on rainfall can add to the beautiful landscape in large scale projects.

  1. Renewable Energy

A building’s carbon footprints can be reduced by sourcing renewable energy on-site. Walls and roof of the building can be used for solar energy systems. A solar PV system will generate electricity and can also help to maintain internal thermal conditions. Biogas plants can also be set up to reduce the energy requirements of the building. It will also help in the waste management system.

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  1. Insulation

Solar thermal gain can help in lowering carbon footprints, but too much heat gain in summers can cause overheating and increase the need for cooling. Too little solar heat gain in winters would increase the need for heating. There are traditional ways like perforated walls, Trombe wall, use of earthen materials, courtyard planning, etc. that can be incorporated in modern buildings which will help to maintain the insulation of the built structure.

  1. Orientation of building

Building’s location and environment of the surroundings have a great impact on the overall reduction of carbon footprint. For the high efficiency of the building, it should be oriented along the east-west axis which will maximize the north-south glazing. It will help in the best natural ventilation and lighting in the interior.

There are many architectural firms working for the improvement of green and organic architecture. This is one of the most crucial debates for the present and the necessity of future requirements. It has become important for construction works and built environment to reduce their carbon footprints and provide buildings that are not only economical but also sustainable.

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Shreya Jindal
Shreya Jindal
Shreya Jindal is an Architecture student from MBS school of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi. She has an avid interest in learning about new advances and innovations in the field. According to her, Architecture is a lot about understanding the psychology of the built form and the people and surroundings around it. She has tried her best to reflect the same in her writings and is hopeful that readers will be inspired by how architecture evolves living.

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