How can we achieve sustainability in the building and construction sector?

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achieve sustainability in the building and construction sector

“Green” or “sustainable” buildings make more efficient use of important resources such as energy, water, equipment, and soil than buildings that are just built to code. With more natural light and better air quality, green buildings typically contribute to improved employee and student health, comfort, and productivity.

The multiple benefits of energy‐efficient, resilient and sustainable buildings are significant. They  include:

  • Better health and well‐being
  • Poverty alleviation
  • Increased comfort
  • Higher employment
  • Greater productivity

According to the 2018 Global Status Report “Towards a zero‐emission, efficient and resilient buildings and construction sector”, the following areas are the opportunities to tap into and achieve a sustainable pathway for the buildings and construction sector:   

> Human Factors: Bringing user experience into the design and operation of buildings will help ensure that energy use and services can meet user needs. Therefore, the indoor building environment and building physical systems are important influencers of daily human experience.

> Technology solutions: The transition towards the adoption of more‐efficient building technologies has begun to shift building energy performance. For example,  manufacturers globally have started to produce high‐efficiency LEDs, and their share in global lighting sales has increased substantially in recent years.

> Architecture solutions: Building and community design can significantly affect occupant comfort, demand for energy services, materials use and resulting sustainability of buildings. Passive building and community design measures are among the most efficient and effective ways to reduce operational energy demand for heating, cooling, and lighting.

sustainability in the building and construction sector

> Resilient buildings:  As extreme climate events and associated risks occur more frequently, building standards need to account for a range of new or increased risks related to climate change, such as extreme temperatures or storm events. Under these conditions, a resilient building is one that operates even when it, or the infrastructure around it, fails.

> Urban solutions: Urban environments influence the size, shape, and type of buildings that are built and how they respond to their surrounding environment through municipal governance, land use, and planning controls. Local government planning often has the power to directly control aspects related to building energy performance, including height and overshadowing,  orientation, building controls, and inspection, and requirements around access to energy and transport infrastructure. 

> Material solutions: CO2 emissions resulting from material use in buildings account for 28% of the annual buildings related to CO2 emissions. Due to this, countries are taking actions to address direct emissions (e.g. from fossil fuel combustion in buildings) and indirect emissions (e.g. from electricity consumption). Thus, the relative importance of embodied carbon in the global buildings and construction carbon footprint is therefore increasing.

> Clean energy transition: Enabling the transition to a sustainable buildings and construction sector will require swift and ambitious policy action to innovate and move markets quickly to low‐carbon and high‐efficiency technologies and best building practices. This will capture energy savings in the next decade and reduce the increasing impact that growing electricity demand has on the power sector.

> Circular economy: It is an approach where there is a continuous loop from the start to the end of life for products. In the buildings and construction sector, the inception of buildings at the design phase in a circular economy considers all aspects of the life of the building and its materials through the construction, operation, and end of useful life. To achieve the circular nature, the end of life would be extended through improved operations, maintenance, refurbishment, reuse and recycling of the building and building components.

References:

I. E. A. (I. E. A. (2018). 2018 Global Status Report Towards a zero‐emission, efficient and resilient buildings and construction sector, 1–73.

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