For a project to be considered net zero carbon, its life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions must be zero or less. Among these sources are:
- Implications of operational energy and water during their life cycles.
- Construction’s life-cycle effects on material extraction, production, site transportation, installation, and waste, as well as on maintenance, replacement, renovation, and end-of-life processes.
- Energy exported from the project benefits (or avoids negative effects) other consumers
- Advantages of (avoided consequences from) materials reused when the project is completed
How important is Net Zero Carbon?
Net zero carbon is important from a business perspective since prestigious building clients and cities demand it. Even if you do not think climate change is a big deal, you still must cater to consumer demand.
National governments, localities, and top long-term real estate investors have all signed the World Green Building Council’s Advancing Net Zero Commitment. Many more are interested in implementing some of the best practices to uphold their reputations as ethical businesses.
While 39% of all carbon emissions worldwide are related to the building industry, achieving Net Zero Carbon is significant globally.
The effects of decarbonizing the energy grid
Construction life-cycle carbon emissions are primarily sourced from operational energy. However, the use of alternative energy has altered the situation.
Decarbonizing the energy grid results in materials’ life-cycle impacts becoming the primary source of life-cycle emissions for any building with a lifespan of at least 50 years.
The increase in low-carbon energy has been a good thing, but it has also made it more challenging to reduce emissions through energy export. Before the grid you export has zero emissions, you must export enough energy to balance your emissions.
7 design tactics for attaining carbon neutrality
- Reducing the demand for virgin materials.
- Reducing the need for fossil fuels.
- Making use of resources and structures already in place.
- Choosing items with longer product lives reduces the need for material replacements during the building life cycle.
- Making your own materials and structures repurposed: designing for adaptation, disassembly, and reuse.
- Substituting fossil fuels in other places.
- Carbon that is biogenic and sequesters.
Some climatic benefits also result from using materials toward the end of their useful lives and, in the case of cementitious materials, from carbonization of those materials both during and beyond the lifetime of the building.
Author: Swastika Jha
Upcoming event: 3rd energy transformation summit, 15-17th March, 2023