Greener buildings could slash carbon emissions

Posted by Laura Grant on March 14, 2008
Posted in Green News, Lifestyle

green-building-new.jpgThe role of the transport and fossil fuel sectors in generating greenhouse gas emissions has gained the attention of politicians and business. But more attention needs to be paid to the impact of the building sector has on climate change. Basic changes in building design and construction could cut emissions by 35 percent in North America alone, according to a report by the Commission for Environmental Co-operation.

The report, titled Green Building in North America: Opportunities and Challenges, noted that North America’s buildings release more than 2,200 megatons of carbon dioxide each year, some 35 percent of the continent’s total. “The carbon savings, if we started building all buildings to a higher standard by 2030, would be equivalent to all carbon emissions of the transportation sector in the United States,” says Jonathan Westeinde a Canadian developer on the CEC advisory board.

It is common now for more advanced green buildings to reduce energy usage by 30, 40, or even 50 percent over conventional buildings, with the most efficient buildings now performing more than 70 percent better than conventional properties, says the CEC. Yet, green building accounts for just two percent of the new non-residential building market, less than half of one percent of the residential market in the United States and Canada, and less than that in Mexico.

Westeinde added that many of the ideas in the report are not new – thicker insulation, more energy efficient windows, minimising energy-intensive heating and air-conditioning and so on – but what’s new is that “there is science behind it”. The report shows that the goal of making all American buildings completely carbon-neutral by 2030 can be achieved, he said.

In South Africa, thanks to the electricity crisis developers are beginning to recognise the advantages of green building ideas. Solar water heating and reducing the use of energy consuming air-conditioning – which can reportedly constitute up to 60 percent of energy use in retail environments – are two ideas that seem to be gaining attention.

The establishment of the Green Building Council of South Africa last year is another sign that interest in green building is growing in this country. The council will promote green building programmes, technologies, design practices and operations and innovation in sustainable building practices.

Via :: Terra Daily

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