Battling climatic change with Greener buildings.
Emission of greenhouse gases has been causing inequalities of the weather patterns in the world. These gases also expose humans’ to direct UV rays from the sun. But how can these emissions be prevented from mass accumulation to the atmosphere? The research involves an understanding of the greenhouse gas emissions, their source and how they can be avoided or reduced. The research will scope on how the green buildings are set to reduce the emissions as well as their aid to their owners. It will suggest the strategies that engineers, architects and contractors should incorporate to renovate the existing buildings to meet the green standards and also how the future buildings should be structured to be compatible with the changing weather changes. A conclusion will then recommend on the areas that need to be critically reviewed in order to achieve the objectives of environmental conservation.
A Green building refers to both a structure and the application of processes that are environmentally responsible and resource efficient throughout a buildings life cycle . The process begins right from the designing, constructing, operating, maintaining, renovating and deconstructing of the structures with an aim of catering for the environment and its climate. When all these aspects are critically executed with an environmental construction mentality, then the climatic change will be well taken care of, ensuring that people lead a natural quality life provided by the environment. This research will scope on how both engineering and non-engineering activities can be properly incorporated for the benefit of the environment as well as its climatic patterns.
In order to take care of the climate, it is important to understand the activities that lead to its problem. Once the source is identified, it can then be modified and the problem will drastically come to an end. In so doing, the degraded environmental pattern will gradually recover to its natural way. The effects that the environment has suffered have been directed towards the greenhouse gas emissions. In the United States, the Green Building Council (USGBC) leadership in Energy Environmental Design (LEED) rating system is the body that caters for the Green building system, where they reflected their dynamics towards building systems in transportation, waste, water and construction Materials . After the identification of these aspects, it becomes easy to streamline the areas where each is contributing to the problem and be able to mitigate it accordingly.
- Greenhouse effect
A greenhouse gas is the one that emits and absorbs radiant energy within the thermal infrared range and this process is called the greenhouse effect. The major greenhouse gases that dominate the earth’s atmosphere include Carbon Dioxide, Ozone, and water vapor and Methane gas. These gases help to regulate the global temperature to an average of 15 degrees compared to -18 degrees if they do not exist . Carbon Dioxide is, however, the gas emitted in huge masses resulting from human activities that involve combustion of fossil fuels, natural gas, coal, and oil. Its massive accumulation into the atmosphere is also due to deforestation leading to a shortage of trees which help in absorbing it. Statistics reveal that an increase in the concentration of the greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide to be precise, began to increase with a 40% pace at around 1750 due to human activities of the industrial revolution . This practice has caused a drastic change of the environmental patterns, exposing it to effects such as global warming.
Basing the statistics in the United States, Buildings have been found to contribute 39% of the total carbon dioxide emitted in one year . In fact, United States is the second in emittingCO2 after China which holds the tip. The CO2 emitted in this case results from combustion of fuels that provide heating, cooling and lighting, and from electric appliances. Residential buildings are estimated to use more than 70% of the total electricity in the United States. Innovation of existing buildings as well as the changing the mode of building future constructions will help to conserve the environment. The industries sector was pointed to have contributed a percentage of 29% while transport lies at 33% in emission of greenhouse gases . From this data given, it is now clear as to why there is a need come up with green buildings to conserve the environment. Below is an example of a Green building.
- Effectiveness of Green Buildings
A scientific problem should be also solved scientifically. Construction of green buildings is dabbed as one of the most effective strategies to reduce climatic change since they reduce the carbon dioxide emissions. A certified green building uses 32% less electricity and saves 350 metric tons of carbon emissions annually . The method is of two-way benefit because while it is reducing the carbon emissions; it reduces the electric costs as well. The construction of green buildings requires cooperation of the contractor, the architects and the engineers without leaving the client involvement . The achievement of these classy green buildings will contribute to the economy, utility, durability and comfort of the client . The graphic below displays some indefiable impacts of Green Buildings.
- Energy saving appliances
The green buildings have an abundant role in saving energy while mitigating CO2 emissions. The engineers who draft designs for buildings should consider the following aspects while trying to mitigate the CO2 emissions. First, they should they should look for complementary means of the existing appliances in houses. In heating, for instance, they should install the most efficient heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems so as to ensure high performance along with the role of the system in mitigating carbon emissions . Second is optimization of daylighting and alternating it with the use of state of the art lighting. When designed in this way, they will be assured of reduced CO2 emitted to the environment.
- Renewable sources
Renewable sources of energy are set to emit more gas to the atmosphere compared to the non-renewable sources. Energy sources such as charcoal and coal are non-renewable sources. Charcoal, in particular, contains a lot of carbon in it. On top of that, they emit a lot of the subject gas to the atmosphere when being used to provide energy. If renewable sources such as hydropower, biomass, and solar energy are replaced with the renewable sources, no emissions will occur to the environment hence saving it . Instead of using Charcoal to heat water, the constructor was supposed to enlighten their client on a complimentary energy saving method such as the use of solar panels. This is another method that engineers use to impact the environment accordingly.
- Supplementary construction materials
The material foregone for construction determines both the durability and suitability of a building. A floor of a house for instance helps keep warmth as opposed to other material such as clay and plastic that absorb heat from the surrounding, leaving the floor and the room very cold. Solid wood products can act quite was as flooring the building. In cases where occupants are allergic to dust or other particles, the wood tiles will come to their rescue. An American asthma and allergic foundation recommended for the use of hardwood, vinyl, and slate flooring instead of carpet . Hardwood products can also improve in quality air by absorbing and releasing moisture in the air to moderate humidity .
- Water conservation
A sustainable building should enhance protection of water quality, and reduce overall water consumption rates. Green buildings should increase dependency of the water that is collected, used, purified, and reused on site. This will be accomplishes by designing a dual plumbing that recycles water in toilet flushing, or by using the water for washing cars. Water wastage can be minimized by installing fixtures such as flush toilets and low flow shower heads. A bidet for instance can help in reducing the use of tissue papers, hence having a clear flow of sewage, reducing the water usage. Gutters should also be efficiently installed to collect rainwater, and this will help in minimizing the cost of pipe water. When engineers take this factor into consideration, water loss will be minimized hence achieving an environmental friendly green building.
- Green plants
Despite of building structures that are environmental friendly, green plants should also be included around a building. These may include trees, flowers and such plants in the compound. These plants will benefit the environment through absorption of carbon dioxide gas that is harmful to the Ozone. Also, green plants provide a cool environment through shades and providing for breezes in a construction. The architect who is responsible for designing the structures and their compounds should take into consideration. More green should be included in the surrounding for environmental purposes as well as aesthetic.
- Non-toxic substances
During new constructions such as homes, schools, offices etc., the engineers should choose substances that are non-toxic, both to the clients and to the environments. Such are like the wall painting. Some paints contain chemicals that will continue emitting radiations to the air. These radiations have scientifically been proved to contain dangerous chemical which affects human eyes and respiratory systems. Generally, they create a discomfort due their choking smell. Supplementary non-toxic products which are environmental friendly along with other Green elements will ensure for human and environmental protection.
- Efficient lighting
Lighting consumes a lot of power since it used at night when people resume to their homes. Some bulbs are set to consume a lot of power while in use. However, this problem can be reduced right at beginning of the construction through installation of energy efficient bulbs. Fluorescent bulbs for instance use 20% less energy compared to normal bulbs. Built houses or institutions should be advised to replace their bulbs with the Fluorescent bulbs which are not only energy saving but also reduce the effect on the climate in emission of the Greenhouse gases . It is the responsibility of the engineers and contractors to ensure that this goal is met through enlightening their clients accordingly. This will also help to save the costs as well.
II Contribution of green buildings to the society
Green buildings not only help in reduction of greenhouse emissions but they also save money and create jobs. The green buildings are perfect for business as well as for use as areas of residence. The green buildings on average saves 20% of the overall construction costs and this may yield $170 per foot over a conventional building . A fact is that for these buildings are constructed to save energy; cost will be saved as well. A recent research found out that an investment plan of $150 billion per year of energy efficiency in the U.S would result to a saving plan of $200 billion a year and this money can be used to employ more people in a case of a business. In renting these green buildings, the rates will be high in accordance with the standards they are made of. This is a clear demonstration of the profit that a green building can yield.
Integration of the plans to come up with Green buildings has really come to the rescue of both the climate and to the local people affected. A well-composed engineer is required to design the best green building for the purposes of saving costs of the owners and for the environment as well. Greenhouse gas emissions have been found to be hazardous to the climate, something that will affect the people. It is therefore important for both the engineers and the state heads around the world to be keen when making decisions regarding the Green buildings. Owners of the projects should also up here to the revolutions that the world is making with a common goal of ensuring a sustainable environment and money saving plans as well.
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