How Buildings Are Reducing Their Emissions

Amidst the push for more environmentally-friendly practices, many cities are now creating legislature and emission targets that will benefit the environment. According to NewYork Engineers, by 2050 New York City would like to reduce their emissions to 80% of the pollutant levels in 2005; a process which will require a unique solution for each building. Legislature like New York City’s places many new challenges on buildings to figure out ways to reduce their emissions. There are a number of ways that buildings, from residential to corporate, can go about reducing their emissions, and a few of these methods are listed below.

Building Materials
The Urban Green Council believes that excessive use of glass on many modern New York buildings creates a weakness. The glass creates additional energy consumption due to its conductive properties. Glass is able to conduction far more heat than traditional construction materials. Through triple-pane glass offers better insulation than conventional windows, NewYork Engineers argues that both are far inferior to the insulation offered by walls that are well-insulated.

Heating and Cooling
Insulation plays a large role on how much a building’s heating and cooling system will need to work. A building with poor insulation will place a higher load onto their HVAC system than a building that is well-insulated. 

According to the Committee on Climate Change, low-carbon heat is critical to decreasing a building’s emissions. When analyzed by the CCC, cost-effective technologies such as heat pumps and bioenergy were able to produce low-carbon heat. 

Metal Architecture attributes 40% of the energy consumed by a commercial building to lighting. As a solution, Metal Architecture explains that solar control window films are able to reduce energy expenditure by around 30%. However, this solar film needs to be suitable for the building; offering not too much solar thermal gain and not too little. Combined with light-colored interior finishes and light bookshelves, solar control window films can distribute light throughout a room deeper into a building while reducing the load on the building’s HVAC system.

Early Planning
If a building has not already been built, then one of the main keys to reducing emissions is planning for low-emissions from the start. According to Metal Architecture the planning stage allows for the most opportunity for emission reduction. Factors, such as the location of a building, can have both an effect on the building itself, the community around it, and the ecosystem surrounding it. As explained by Metal Architecture, the orientation of a building also has an effect on its carbon emissions. Additionally, mapping what equipment will go into the building will allow for a better site design along with more eco-friendly equipment choices.

A few of these emission-reducing strategies require an initial investment for the buildings, such as with the high costs of heat pumps, but the energy savings are immediate. For future generations to come, it is important that these generations understand how to reduce emissions and how their current actions can lead them to unforeseen-consequences. It is also important that big-players understand the environmental impact of buildings too. Though buildings may employ strategies to reduce their emissions now, it is important to continually update these strategies as time passes.