Tips to Reduce Your Building Carbon Footprint

Managing and reducing carbon footprints as part of a low carbon strategy, with its inherent cost benefits and revenue opportunities, is increasingly important in building design. Building green is one of the best strategies to temper negative climate change because the technology to make substantial reductions in energy and CO2 emissions already exists

HVAC

Continuous insulation

Lighting

Recycled content

Water usage

Renewable energy

HVAC

Since HVAC comprises 40 percent of all carbon emissions, incorporating the most efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, along with efficient operations and scheduled maintenance of such systems, reduces carbon footprint.

Continuous insulation

Specify continuous insulation. ASHRAE 90.1 defines continuous insulation as insulation that is continuous across all structural members without thermal bridges other than fasteners and service openings. It is installed on the interior, exterior or is integral to any opaque surface of the building. “In a steel-framed building, thermal shorts reduce the assembly R-value of cavity-insulated wall systems by more than 50 percent,” says Gary Parsons, building scientist. 

Lighting

Use state-of-the-art lighting and optimize daylighting. Lighting accounts for approximately 40 percent of the energy used in a typical commercial building. Solar thermal gain lowers carbon footprints, but too much solar gain in summer causes overheating and increases the need for cooling. Too little solar gain in winter increases the need for heating. Solar control window films can reduce carbon footprints by cutting energy expenditures by up to 30 percent.

Recycled content

Specify recycled content building and interior materials. Choose recyclable building materials that have less negative effect on the environment. Support green suppliers and vendors that embrace green practices. “Metal building systems are the ideal product for sustainability and green as steel is the most recycled material on the planet,”Recycled steel reduces mining waste by 97 percent, air pollution by 86 percent and water pollution by 76 percent.

Recycled content

Specify recycled content building and interior materials. Choose recyclable building materials that have less negative effect on the environment. Support green suppliers and vendors that embrace green practices. “Metal building systems are the ideal product for sustainability and green as steel is the most recycled material on the planet,”Recycled steel reduces mining waste by 97 percent, air pollution by 86 percent and water pollution by 76 percent.

Water usage

A major factor contributing to the carbon footprint of a building is the amount of energy expended to supply, treat and use its water. Water-oriented strategies significantly reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

Renewable energy

A building’s carbon footprint can be reduced by sourcing its operational energy from environmentally responsible sources, or by generating renewable energy on-site. Using the walls or roof of a building for solar air heating, solar electric photovoltaic (PV) systems or solar water heating can permanently eliminate part of the demand for conventional energy.