Nowadays, climate-conscious people are worried about buildings carbon and energy emissions. This is a serious concern because most countries now have different carbon targets that force new and existing buildings to reduce their carbon footprint. Today, just a few buildings are capable of making the switch, and the progress is also very slow. Most buildings cannot easily implement decarbonization strategies like moving from fossil fuels to sustainable energy sources or lowering energy consumption to avoid expensive grid peaks.
This article will discuss some effective ways to decarbonize existing buildings.
Prioritize Energy Efficiency
We should give priority to energy efficiency. A well-insulated building should be the primary and most important priority for energy efficiency. A building’s outer enclosure should be designed to lower the need for cooling and heating. Thus, we can reduce the energy used for cooling and heating. The building should be as airtight as feasible due to the insulation used.
Select an Appropriate Ventilation System
Because your building is airtight, you will need to install a ventilation system to prevent moisture build-up and maintain good air quality. You may use heat-recovery ventilators, an “energy recovery ventilation system.” It works at different temperatures between the two sources. This method is used to decrease the demand for cooling and heating of buildings.
Make Use of LED Lights
Compared to incandescent lighting, our switch to LED lighting can help us save up to 75 percent on energy. We should also use sensors to save energy in areas not often used, such as restrooms and lecture halls.
Use Renewable Energy
On-site RE (renewable energy) contributes clean energy to the total installed capacity of a city. On the other hand, off-site renewable energy is used for buildings that want to achieve the goal of net-zero emissions. Sources of carbon-free renewable energy can help reduce building emissions.
In recent years, the cost of renewable energy generation and storage systems has dropped dramatically. Renewable energy can now compete with conventional grid energy, making it a more tempting option.
Become Carbon Neutral
Carbon offsets can compensate for any leftover carbon emissions that are not easy to avoid through efficiency measures or renewable energy sources. Even the combination of renewable energy purchase or generation and energy efficiency does not always reduce all a building’s operational emissions.
Existing buildings that use fossil fuels for water heating and cooking may not be able to reduce carbon emissions completely. Here, carbon offsets can play a vital role in compensating for the total emissions.
Such offsets should be used with other investments in renewable energy projects or improving energy efficiency, particularly inside the boundaries of a city.
Stakeholders may want to consider including embodied carbon in their definition of decarbonization. If such embedded emissions cannot be minimized or prevented, carbon offsets should be utilized to compensate for them.
Carbon offsets are only employed when all other options are exhausted or unavailable.
Reduce Embodied Carbon
Construction, maintenance, operation, renovation, and demolition are all stages of a building’s life cycle, and they all create carbon emissions from machinery, materials, and fuel. Embodied carbon is the term for these emissions.
Governments of many nations are likely to urge the inclusion of embodied carbon in several decarbonization initiatives to address all emissions throughout the life cycle of a particular building. The decrease in embodied carbon needs to be evaluated before compensating for remaining carbon emissions using carbon offset options like carbon credits.
Not every set of decarbonization initiatives is thought to be equally beneficial. The hierarchy of choices between distinct components is determined by financial costs and holistic, environmental, and social considerations. For example, reducing energy use is preferable to utilizing energy, even renewable sources.
Certain techniques are more cost-effective for large-scale decarbonizing buildings and provide greater carbon reductions. The selection of decarbonization pathways will be based on the opinions of building owners, developers, and managers and will be largely influenced by local conditions.
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