Over the past two centuries, coal and fossil fuels have been used as the major energy source of the world. With the impacts created by the Carbon Dioxide emitted while using these sources, it has become necessary for various energy-consuming industries to adapt to renewable energy sources, such as wind power, solar power, green hydrogen and solar fuels. Among these consumers, about 40% of the global energy production has been consumed by built environments.
It is therefore important to find solutions to reduce this energy consumption and to reduce the amount of energy that is wasted in built environments. So, the interest in this subject leads to the concept of green buildings. These are the buildings that have an architectural design to use renewable energy sources as much as possible for their energy requirements.
Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are the reason why the earth has a temperature that is adequate for living beings to survive without any extra effort. As usual, there is a limit for every good thing, it is similar for the atmospheric greenhouse gas concentration. Since the industrial revolution, human induced greenhouse gas emission increased dramatically, and currently, it has become the major reason for climate change, global warming, sea level rise and other impacts.
“When discussing this human-induced greenhouse gas emission, around 67% of it is either directly or indirectly related to built environments”
The following are the major contributors, key among them the energy used for electricity and heating purposes in buildings, transportation, water usage, removal and changes in the land vegetation cover and the construction process including building products.
Constructing individual green buildings will not reduce the carbon footprint of built environments. It only reduces or eliminates the energy usage by the building for electricity and heating purposes, but it will not give a solution to reduce the carbon emission by water supply, transportation and waste management which are related to built environments, either directly or indirectly.
What is the sustainable solution to reduce carbon emissions in built environments?
The solution is the concept of Green Communities. In definition, several environmental, psychological, and constructional requirements need to be satisfied by a green community. Among them, I am going to describe how a green community reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
In a green community, all the buildings should be constructed to satisfy the requirements of a green building. Also, by placing the housing complexes closer to the utility buildings, the carbon dioxide emission by the longdistance transportation is reduced in a green community. Other than that, these green communities use renewable energy sources to fulfill the energy requirement in the community as much as possible. Further, the designing and placement of these communities focus on reducing the impact on the environment by using environmentally friendly construction materials for construction and placing recycling centers in the community. These are some of the major properties in a green community, and there are many more.
Nirmal Kavindra Kularathne
University of Sri Jayewardenepura