Just How Much Do Building Practices Effect Our Climate?

One might wonder just how much modern building practices effect our climate and this article will hopefully point you in the right direction to get all the answers that you need.

A quote from a report prepared by the CEC states:

“In Canada, Mexico, and the United States, commercial and residential building operations account for about 20, 30, and 40 percent of the primary energy consumption, respectively. They typically also account for 20 to 25 percent of the landfill waste and 5 to 12 percent of the water consumption. The United States Green Building Council estimates that green building, on average, currently reduces energy use by 30 percent, carbon emissions by 35 percent, water use by 30 to 50 percent, and generates waste cost savings of 50 to 90 percent.” (bold ours)

Chapter 3 Pg 25 had an especially interesting paragraph. It said:

“The impact is especially profound in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. Every
year, buildings in North America cause more than 2,200 MT of CO2 to be released into the atmosphere, about 35 percent of the continent’s total. Hundreds of coalfired power plants, a key source of greenhouse gas emissions, are currently on the drawing boards in the United States. According to one report, 76 percent of the energy produced by these plants will go to operate buildings.”

So just changing building practices to more green methods in North America can effect a huge change on huge factors that affect global climate change.

In chapter 4 of the report on page 34 the heading reads “A process of continually improving the performance of buildings can fundamentally address the climate change crisis.” and it further states “about 30 percent of the projected global greenhouse gas emissions in the building sector can be avoided by 2030 with net economic benefi t. According to the report, limiting CO2 emissions would also improve indoor and outdoor air quality, improve social welfare, and enhance energy security.”

So not only does it reduce the pollutants that cause global warming but will drive further devlopment economically and improve overall environmental conditions leading to further benefits. As with any efficiency effort it would also lead to a more secure future in this case in terms of energy.

A Swedish study was cited that showed that huge cost savings could result from upgrading insulation, water heaters, and using energy efficient lighting. While we know that this was a Swedish study similar results should be had by making similar changes in North America.

The study found thatInsulation improvements alone could save more than 1.7 gigatonnes of CO2 by 2030, lighting improvement could eliminate close to 0.4 gigatonnes, and water heating improvements of about 0.5 gigatonnes.

The report brings out some very interesting facts and information on how green builing practices can further benefit the world in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and certainly worth a read.

Make sure you take a look at the report at http://www.cec.org/files/PDF/GB_Report_EN.pdf

Green Building & Climate Change?

Some might wonder; “What on earth does the way I choose to build my home have to do with climate change?”.

The answer; The way most of us in developed countries live has a large impact on climate change and that includes the way we build our homes.

It includes the materials we use and the processes used to produce them. It includes the amount of waste produced from typical construction methods. It includes the appliances we use to store food, wash clothing, etc. It includes the types and amounts of energy we use to power those homes, and one might even go so far as to say that it includes a host of other seemingly unrelated factors that in some small way impact other areas of our lives that contribute to the overall problem.

In order to address the problem of climate control we need to consider our overall carbon footprint which means evaluating overall how we live.

Don’t panic though because just like any other big change, it starts with making little changes that all together add up to a big result.

The sustainable building / development articles of this site are intended to inform and educate visitors on what they can do to effect climate change by making changes in the way they approach the problem of providing adequate, comfortable, and practical shelter.