A Basic Guide to Climate Change for Construction Specialist

A Basic Guide to Climate Change for Construction Specialist

by Proforma Construction Inc, August 12, 2021

Detailed observations of the Earth’s surface temperature collected and analyzed by various research groups reveal that the average temperature during the 21st century’s first decade is warmer than the 20th century’s first decade. The most significant warming has happened over the last three decades. Moreover, scientists have also noted rising temperatures in oceans, the lower atmosphere, and the frozen parts of the Earth’s surface. Human activities that discharge heat-trapping gasses such as CO2 in the atmosphere are largely to blame for the rising temperatures. Examples of such activities include, among others, the use of fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, and coal) to produce energy, certain industrial activities, and deforestation. While natural climate variability causes fluctuations in temperature over time, it can’t offset or explain the ongoing warming trend.

What Is the Greenhouse Effect?

As the name suggests, it describes how the sunlight’s heat is trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere. This leads to an increase in temperature akin to how a greenhouse is warmer inside even when the outside temperature drops.

How Do Buildings Cause Climate Change?

About 40% of global carbon emissions result from commercial and residential buildings. Out of this, 11% emanates from construction materials (Embodied Carbon), whereas 28% is due to energy consumption. Energy consumption in buildings comes from the need to cool down and warm up buildings, especially if the ventilation and insulation are inefficient.

Embodied carbon in buildings emanates from the production and distribution of construction materials as well as the process of construction. Generating energy using fossil fuels correlates with global warming. However, as the energy production and distribution decarbonize, the next clear step in climate change mitigation is reducing buildings’ embodied energy/carbon. There is an ongoing shift in the construction industry toward Net Zero Carbon Building. Net Zero Buildings are buildings whose greenhouse gas emission throughout their life-cycle is zero or less.

How Can Building Life Cycle Assessment Help Fight Climate Change?

Life Cycle Assessment entails accurately measuring the carbon footprint and the environmental impact to get an accurate picture of the impact a building will have on the environment throughout its life cycle. Life Cycle Assessment is the scientific standards-based methodology that you can use to objectively measure how a service, product, or process will impact the environment. By conducting a Life Cycle Assessment, you can figure out the design choices you need to make to reduce a building’s carbon footprint. Additionally, you’ll be able to determine how much emissions various construction materials generate and how to design the most efficient green buildings using quantifiable and reliable data.

What Can I Do as a Construction Specialist?

As a construction expert, you need to think about the legacy you want to create through your building projects and business. If you work in construction as a consultant, contractor, architect, designer, investor, or manufacturer, you have a great opportunity to shape the future through your work. By being more careful in evaluating materials, making thoughtful design choices, and relying on reliable metrics and methodologies, you can figure out how to lower the carbon footprint of your construction projects. Green building is not only an ethical choice but also a prudent financial choice because the market now demands accountability, traceability, and transparency.

Whether you’re working on new buildings, retrofit, or refurbishments and whether your project is retail, commercial, industrial, or other specialized projects, our team at Proforma Construction will help you take it from idea stage to completion. Additionally, if you want to learn more about sustainable buildings and ecodesign, we can help.