Earth Day is an initiative to raise sustainability awareness

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This Sustainability article by Tom Swallow on the commemoration of Earth Day. Accordingly, the author proposes that it is an initiative to raise sustainability awareness.

April 22, 2022

Earth Day is an initiative to raise sustainability awareness

Organisations are putting forward their sustainability sentiments as they highlight their ESG commitments in light of the April 2022 Earth Day initiative

While sustainability is a global issue that is recognised 24/7, 365 days a year, by businesses and non-governmental organisations alike, on the 22nd of April each year, the world comes together for Earth Day. The day recognises the significance of positive environmental impact and the economic and political intervention required to provoke necessary change. 

Organisations across the globe are highlighting their commitments to sustainable development on this day as many of them set their sights on the net-zero emissions goal. The event sees more than one billion people mobilised as they take various non-profit actions to clean up beaches in more than 190 countries—a tradition that began in 1970. 

The 2022 Earth Day theme is ‘Invest in our Planet’ and will host a live stream of the Earth Day Climate Action Summit featuring insights to promote prosperity among viewers and—similar to other events like the COP series—provoke positive change.

Organisations recognise ESG on Earth Day

The message behind ‘Earth’ Day is not only to promote sustainability in terms of the climate but to recognise that environmental, social and governance (ESG) topics are all important in ensuring a well-rounded approach. Consideration for all three areas of ESG is universal, not just for the organisations with direct impacts on the plant. As an example, Zai Lab Limited, an innovative global biopharmaceutical firm, is working with a global charity to plant more trees and reduce its carbon footprint while regenerating the environment. 

Its partnership with One Tree Planted will see that one tree is planted for each of Zai Lab’s employees, which made up a total workforce of almost 2,000 personnel. Chief Sustainability Officer at Zai lab, Jim Massey says that “as a young, vibrant and growing healthcare company, Zai Lab commits to ‘Grow Green’ which means we are laying the groundwork for the sustainability of our business and our planet.” The firm is recognised as a preferred partner, thanks to its commitment to ESG throughout the business. 

Partnerships are crucial for sustainable action

It’s no news that partnership can open up unseen opportunities for businesses—particularly those that operate and expand globally. Larger organisations are partnering with small-to-medium enterprises to support small initiatives that can make huge impacts on the planet. Beyond its partnership in electric vehicle chargingBolt is also taking regenerative action by supporting Seedballs Kenya, an initiative that is regenerating land with a key bio-energy resource, charcoal—a commonly used form of energy production in Nairobi.

Seedballs Kenya is a prime example of a localised circular economy as it uses biochar, produced from charcoal dust, as a protective layer for its seeds in areas that are seemingly difficult to regenerate. This forms the Seedball.

Supporting initiatives like this one is driving innovation in the direction of a circular economy and more organisations are committed to achieving carbon neutrality by investing in regenerative horticulture and agriculture. 

Teddy Kinyanjui, a Co-Founder of Seedballs, emphasises the importance of initiatives like these. 

“In Kenya, like many other countries, the forests and grasslands are under great pressure. One of the many challenges of landscape-scale restoration is that indigenous seeds are often food for different types of animals like mice and birds,” Kinyanjui says.

“That’s where we come in. The Seedballs programme overcomes this challenge by coating native seeds in waste charcoal dust which prevents the seeds from being eaten. This means that the native grass and tree seeds can be planted year-round rather than waiting for the rainy season. When it rains enough, the charcoal dust dissolves and the seed sinks into the ground back to its natural state, ready to grow.”

The Head of Sustainability at Bolt, Natalia Gutiérrez also comments on this and how the company’s core values catalyed its partnership with Seedballs.

“Bolt is built on a culture of operating in the most efficient way possible and we apply those values in how we mitigate our own environmental impact,” says Gutiérrez. 

“We have handpicked a select number of projects where we collaborate closely with NGOs and other partners on local initiatives that we are confident will maximise the positive impact we can have on the environment. We are proud to announce Seedballs Kenya as the first project of this kind we are investing in and look forward to seeing the difference it will make in areas of Kenya where reforestation was unlikely to occur naturally.”

Every business can become more sustainable

There are many avenues that companies can follow as their path towards sustainability. This will most certainly look different for every organisation, which is why Earth Day brings together many of the new ideas and initiatives that shape their ESG strategies and address concerns around waste management, energy consumption and sourcing, greenhouse gas emissions, social justice and governance.

In the ever-growing food delivery market, changes have happened at an unprecedented rate—partly due to COVID-19 as consumer sentiments accelerate towards more sustainable products and services. In particular, food waste is a challenge that businesses in this space are concerned about. According to the UN Environment Programme’s Food Waste Index, more than 900 million tonnes of food is wasted every year and consumers have made positive changes to the way they consume food. 

  • 67% of respondents to a survey said they keep leftovers and use them for another meal
  • 51% of consumers are frustrated by food waste
  • 73% prefer to have accurate portion sizes to avoid food waste
  • 68% feel that takeaway restaurants should have better precautions in place to reduce food waste

What makes a good sustainability initiative? 

Where there is no single formula for sustainable business, Earth Day will surely outline some successful initiatives that can be replicated, adapted, and shared with other businesses. Whether it involves being more transparent of sustainability credentials, taking on new projects to improve emissions and waste management with an organisation, or supporting partners in their efforts to regenerate land, Earth Day 2022 hopes to inspire every individual, group and organisation to ‘Invest in our Planet’.

Climate vulnerabilities, food security, and resilient development

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Preeti Kapuria and Debosmita Sarkar in their assertion in the ORF of today, that climate vulnerabilities, food security, and resilient development have some sort of cause to affect relationships elaborated on this article that is worth meditating on. Here it is:

Climate vulnerabilities, food security, and resilient development

Both climate risks and non-climatic drivers need to be factored in to curb food and water shortages induced by climate change in vulnerable regions of the world.

The Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) of the IPCC has estimated an average increase of the order of 1.09°C in global surface temperature over the last decade from the 1850–1900 levels. The AR6 Working Group II (WGII) makes an assessment of climate change impacts and risks as well as adaptations necessary in the context of non-climatic global concerns like biodiversity loss, natural resource extraction, ecosystem degradation, unbridled urbanisation and demographic shifts, rising inequalities, and the most recent COVID-19 pandemic[1].

Recognising the interactions of coupled social, climate, and ecological systems, AR6 draws from the natural, ecological, and social sciences in a way to understand the risks emerging from interactions amongst these coupled systems and offer reasonable solutions for the future—hedging against the risks emanating from such interactions. In WGII, impacts are assessed with respect to exposure, vulnerability, and adaptation including assessments of sustainable development models and the plausibility of climate-resilient development. Adopting climate-resilient development requires transitioning to states that reduce the impacts of climate risks, strengthen adaptation and mitigation actions, and, most importantly, conserve and restore these coupled systems. Accordingly, the report focuses on transformation and system transitions in energy; ecosystems conservation; urban and rural infrastructure; and industry and society.

Adopting climate-resilient development requires transitioning to states that reduce the impacts of climate risks, strengthen adaptation and mitigation actions, and, most importantly, conserve and restore these coupled systems.

A multitude of risks can arise from exposure to climate-related hazards, that have significantly varying impacts across regions, sectors, communities depending upon the vulnerability of the affected human and ecological systems. It can also arise from climate change mitigation or adaptation strategies—a new aspect considered under the risk concept of AR6. Climate change has already induced substantial and increasingly irreversible losses spanning across socio-economic-ecological systems. Frequent high-intensity climate and weather extremes have pushed millions of vulnerable people across regions below the poverty line, confronted with acute food and nutritional insecurity, water scarcity, employment vulnerability and loss of basic livelihoods. Besides, it has also led to higher incidences of food-borne, water-borne, or vector-borne diseases as well as humanitarian crises driven by widespread displacement (forced migration). Most of these impacts have been concentrated in the countries of the Global South and the Arctic region.

As per the estimates of the report around 3.3 to 3.6 billion people, globally, are highly vulnerable to the risks associated with climate change. The global hotspots of human vulnerability are particularly concentrated in the Global South, the Small Island Developing States and the Arctic—regions with extreme poverty, governance challenges, and limited access to resources, violent conflict, and higher engagement rates with climate-sensitive livelihoods.

Major challenges: Food insecurity and water scarcity  

Increased exposure to climate-induced risks have undermined the possibility of achieving food and nutritional security, especially in vulnerable regions of the world. Frequent, high intensity and severe droughts, floods and heatwaves, accompanied by substantial sea-level rise continue to increase such risks, especially for regions with lower adaptive capacity. Higher global warming pathways in the medium-term pose even higher risks to food and nutritional security. Consequently, countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Central and South America, and the Small Islands will remain considerably vulnerable to such risksWith global warming progressively weakening soil health and altering natural processes, a substantial reduction in marine animal biomass and changes in food productivity on land and in the ocean are expected. Reduced water availability and streamflow change in many regions, predominantly in parts of North and South America, the Mediterranean region, and South Asia present some additional challenges to food security.

Frequent, high intensity and severe droughts, floods and heat waves, accompanied by substantial sea-level rise continue to increase such risks, especially for regions with lower adaptive capacity.

As per AR6, around 4 billion out of 7.8 billion people experience severe water shortages for at least one month per year due to interactions of climatic and non-climatic factors. The rising population pressure in the developing countries of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East continues to exacerbate the crisis associated with poor water quality, low availability, limited accessibility, and poor water governance. These regions are, therefore, likely to experience even higher rates of depletion of groundwater resources. In the absence of irrigation and varying rainfall patterns, yields of major crops in semi-arid regions, mainly in the Mediterranean, sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Australia, are already experiencing negative growth.

As for the urban areas, over this decade, almost three-quarters of the urban land across South and Southeast Asian countries is expected to experience high-frequency floods while some parts of Africa may experience severe droughts of similar magnitude. Without adaptation, these water-related impacts of climate change, not only present severe implications for food security but, is likely to contribute to a 0.49 percent in decline in global GDP by 2050, with significant regional variations. Estimates suggest declines to the tune of 14 percent in the Middle East, 11.7 percent in the Sahel, 10.7 percent in Central Asia, and 7 percent in East Asia. Even across countries at different income levels within a region, such water-related impacts are projected to have a differential impact on overall economic growth.

Making the choice: Adopting a climate-resilient development

It is evidently clear that the exposure and vulnerability to climate change-induced risks are strongly influenced by the development trajectories pursued by communities and nations, their patterns of consumption and production, the nature and extent of demographic pressures, and unsustainable use and management of ecosystems and related services. Going forward, meeting food security targets will have to cope with climate risks and non-climatic drivers that continue to cause forest cover degradation (including biodiversity loss), land degradation, desertification, and its submergence (mainly in coastal areas), and unsustainable agricultural expansion, land-use change, and water scarcity.

Almost three-quarters of the urban land across South and Southeast Asian countries is expected to experience high-frequency floods while some parts of Africa may experience severe droughts of similar magnitude.

Greater emphasis will have to be placed on adaptation planning and implementation at a system level that cuts across sectors. In this context, amidst growing public awareness and political cognisance, the WGII  AR6  nudges policymakers and communities to adopt a climate-resilient development pathway, while cautioning against its limits and the plausible impacts of maladaptation. To cite an example from the report, in the context of water-related climate change-associated risks, a complimentary design of non-structural measures like early warning systems; structural measures like levees, enhanced natural water retention through wetlands and rivers restoration; land use planning and forest management; on-farm water storage and management; and, soil conservation and irrigation can be effective in ensuring economic, institutional, and ecological benefits of water. Promoting sustainable food systems and ensuring nutritional security will require community-based adoption of sustainable farming practices, agro-forestry, and ecological restoration and supportive public policies to make it a reality.

Interestingly, AR6 highlights effective and feasible adaptation solutions based on climate justice, entailing distributive and procedural justice complemented by recognition of diverse cultural and social perspectives. Integrated and inclusive system-oriented solutions that are based on equity and justice can reduce risks and enable climate-resilient development. Inclusive processes that strengthen the ability of the nations to contribute to effective adaptation outcomes can enable climate-resilient development.


[1] This article is based on a technical summary of the Working Group II’s contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report, titled “Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change”, released on 28th February 2022, announced until 1st October 2021.

Authors

  • Debosmita Sarkar is Research Assistant with the Economy and Growth Programme at ORF Kolkata. Her research interests include macroeconomic policy, international finance and development economics.
  • Preeti Kapuria is currently a Fellow at ORF Kolkata with research interests in the area of environment, development and agriculture. The approach is to understand the linkages between biodiversity, ecosystem functioning, and ecosystem services and to examine how environmental governance, participatory economics and the commons, and the workings of social-ecological systems influence these linkages.

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Architecture “lagging behind all other sectors” in climate change fight

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“Inertia” in the built environment sector, according to Yamina Saheb is yet another proof that Architecture is “lagging behind all other sectors” in the climate change fight. Here is the story as per DEZEEN.

Architecture “lagging behind all other sectors” in climate change fight says IPCC report author

By Jennifer Hahn

Efforts to halt catastrophic climate change are being held back by “inertia” in the built environment sector, according to Yamina Saheb, co-author of the latest report from the United Nations climate change panel.

“The sector hasn’t modernised at all since the second world war,” she told Dezeen. “And now, the data shows it’s lagging behind all other sectors.”

“Each gram of greenhouse gas emissions from buildings means a mistake in their design,” added Saheb, a former policy analyst for the European Commission and the International Energy Agency.

“Architects and urban planners should really look at this report carefully and rethink the way they work.”

Up to 61 per cent of building emissions could be cut by 2050 using technologies available today, the Mitigation of Climate Change report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found.

But progress has so far been held back by widespread “inertia,” as well as a lack of ambition and prioritising of short-term solutions and profits over long-term gains, Saheb said.

Architects are key to mitigating climate change

The report, which was written by Saheb alongside more than 270 scientists from 65 countries, is the final instalment in the IPCC’s three-part review of the current state of climate science.

Following on from two earlier reports covering its causes and effects, the report sets out a plan for how global warming could be mitigated.

The decarbonisation pledges made by international governments in a bid to halve emissions by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050 are simply not enough, the report found, falling short by as much as 23 billion tons of CO2e.

Yamina Saheb co-authored the latest IPCC report

As a result, the world is on track to warm by more than double the 1.5-degree limit set out in the Paris Climate Agreement this century.

“Covering up for these shortfalls will require taking actions across all sectors that can substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” the report states.

The built environment is among the key sectors highlighted in the report that could help the world to cut emissions by 50 per cent this decade.

“Either get this right or it’s wrong forever”

Urgent action is needed from the sector before 2030, the report says, as the long lifespan of buildings and infrastructure locks in emissions and polluting behaviours for decades to come.

“Residential buildings undergo major renovation once every 25 years,” Saheb explained. “That means if you’re not renovating a building to zero-emissions standards this decade, it will not be renovated to this level by 2050 either.”

“For buildings, there is only one round left between now and 2050, so we either get this right or it’s wrong forever.”

Retrofitting is the single most effective strategy for developed countries to limit emissions from buildings, the report found. But so far, “low renovation rates and low ambition” have hindered large-scale emissions reductions.Read:IPCC climate report a “call to arms” say architects and designers

This can be traced back to the construction industry’s lack of digitisation, Saheb argues, and the fact that homeowners have to organise every element of a retrofit, from the heat pump to the insulation, themselves.

“If you need to repair your car, you don’t have to think about each piece separately,” Saheb said. “You just take it to a garage, they fix it and you don’t care about the details.”

“But for a renovation, you as an individual are required to arrange all the details yourself, which is crazy and unrealistic,” she added. “We should have IKEA kits for renovating our buildings.”

“And in Europe, we need to make renovation mandatory to zero-carbon standards. If we don’t have this required by law, it will never happen.”

Sufficiency undervalued due to financial interests 

Crucially, the report also highlights that architects and urban planners have so far neglected to focus on designing for “sufficiency”.

Unlike efficiency measures, which are marginal short-term technological improvements, this term is used to describe broader strategies such as passive cooling, bioclimatic design and prioritising the construction of denser multifamily homes.

These kinds of measures can drastically reduce a building’s demand for energy, materials, land and water over its lifecycle, without relying on added technology and materials that will need to be produced, powered and maintained.

Bioclimatic design strategies include solar chimneys, as used in Casa Flores by Fuster + Architects

“If you design a new development with lots of single-family homes, you will need more land and more construction materials, as well as more energy and water in use than if you go for multifamily buildings,” Saheb said.

“And then you lock the city where you’re building into emissions and car-dependent mobility for generations. This shows how urban and land-use policies will play a major role in the decarbonisation of buildings, which was not considered before.”

Part of the reason that this has so far been undervalued is the fact that architects and urban planners get paid based on the number of square miles they build, Saheb argues, so designing more compact structures runs against their financial interests.

“No one is questioning if the way they make money is aligned with their contribution to climate mitigation,” she said.

Efficiency is not enough

The industry’s failure to adapt sufficiency strategies so far has actually counteracted emissions reductions achieved by making buildings more energy efficient, the report found.

Adding insulation, switching to more modern appliances and other efficiency measures reduced building emissions by 49 per cent between 1990 and 2019. But the lack of sufficiency measures led to a simultaneous emissions increase of 52 per cent.

“The efficiency improvement was fully offset by the lack of sufficiency measures,” Saheb said.

“Previously, climate mitigation policies for buildings included only energy efficiency and the supply with renewables. And we know today that without sufficiency, this is not enough.”

The top image shows Maya Lin’s Ghost Forest installation.

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Climate-related disasters pose ‘major’ growth threat

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Climate-related disasters pose ‘major’ growth threat in Middle East, Central Asia – IMF

By Andrea Shalal

The above featured image is of An aerial view showing Iftin Camp for the internally displaced people outside Baradere town, Gedo Region, Jubaland state, Somalia, March 13, 2022. REUTERS/Feisal Omar

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva speaks during a conference hosted by the Vatican on economic solidarity, at the Vatican, February 5, 2020. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

WASHINGTON, March 30 (Reuters) – The frequency and severity of climate-related disasters are rising faster in the Middle East and Central Asia than anywhere in the world, posing a “major threat” to growth and prosperity, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said.

A new International Monetary Fund paper showed that climate disasters in the region injured and displaced 7 million people in an average year, causing more than 2,600 deaths and $2 billion in physical damage.

“Droughts in North Africa, Somalia and Iran. Epidemics and locust infestations in the Horn of Africa. Severe floods in the Caucasus and Central Asia. The list of disasters is quickly getting longer,” Georgieva said in remarks prepared for the World Government Summit in Dubai.

Analysis of data spanning the past century showed that temperatures in the region had risen by 1.5° C, twice the global increase of 0.7° C, and already sparse precipitation had become more erratic than in any other region, the IMF report said.

Georgieva said extreme weather events typically cut annual economic growth by 1–2 percentage points per capita.

In the Caucasus and Central Asia subregion, she said, such events had caused a permanent loss in the gross domestic product level of 5.5 percentage points.

She called on all countries to adapt their economies to climate challenges, including through adoption of a steadily rising carbon price, increased green investments and work to ensure a just transition across and within countries.

She lauded the United Arab Emirates, a major oil producer, for its pledge to invest more than $160 billion in renewable energy to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Egypt, meanwhile, was investing in modern irrigation techniques, education and health care.

Georgieva said it was also critical to ensure climate adaptation policies were included in national economic strategies, as investments in resilient infrastructure and better flood protection could avert economic losses.

In Morocco, for instance, simulations showed that beefing up water infrastructure improved resilience to droughts and cut GDP losses by almost 60%.

She said public infrastructure investment needs could amount to 3.3% of GDP per year for individual countries in the region over the next decade, more than twice the average for emerging market economies.

Given limited resources in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries would need a mix of domestic policy reforms, such as replacing fuel subsidies, and international support, including from the IMF, Georgieva said.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; editing by Richard Pullin

What is Net-Zero Architecture?

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What is Net-Zero Architecture? Wondered Dima Stouhi before giving some of her thoughts on the Terms and Design Strategies.

As revolutionary as the construction sector may seem nowadays, it currently accounts for nearly 40% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, 11% of which are a result of manufacturing building materials such as steel, cement, and glass. Fast forward a couple of years later, after a life-changing global pandemic and indisputable evidences of climate change, CO2 emissions are still on a rise, reaching a historical maximum in 2020 according to the 2020 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction. Although a lot of progress has been made through technological advancements, design strategies and concepts, and construction processes, there is still a long way to go to reduce carbon emissions to a minimum or almost zero in the development of built environments.

+ 9

Responding to the alarming statistics, governments have put in place several action plans to limit carbon emissions and ensure a sustainable environment. In July 2021, the European Commission adopted a package of proposals to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030. Earlier this year, the commission launched its second edition of the New European Bauhaus program, an initiative designed to transform the built environment into a more sustainable and socially valuable one.

As the world embarks on a mission towards a net-zero environment, here are some terms that encompass net-zero architecture.

Net-Zero Architecture

By definition, “net-zero”, also known as carbon neutrality, is the act of negating or canceling out the amount of greenhouse gases produced by human activity, by reducing existing emissions and implementing methods of absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Although net-zero buildings represent a fragment of new construction projects, the technology, tools, and knowledge that architects have acquired over the past years have made designing a net-zero building the new norm. To design net-zero buildings, we listed 7 things to take into account to contribute to this global objective. The list includes making use of bioclimatic architecture and passive concepts, provide renewable energy on site whenever possible, using energy efficiency of appliances and lighting, and considering embedded carbon. Beyond architecture, urban planners have also been trying to find strategies to create environmentally friendly communities. In 2018, Architecture for Humans proposed the Zero Emission Neighborhood, an eco-village concept in the city of PristinaKosovo that ensures optimum sustainability for the entire community through “zero emission” buildings, passive design strategies, active solar systems, and energy efficient appliances.

Net Zero Village. Image © Architecture for Humans

Net-Zero Energy

Net-Zero Energy is when the building is able to offset, or counterbalance the amount of energy required to build and operate throughout its lifetime in all aspects of the site, source, cost, and emissions. In other words, the building is able to produce enough energy to cancel or “zero-out” the amount of energy it takes to operate daily. Net-zero energy buildings are often designed with these three criteria: “producing energy onsite via equipment like solar panels or wind turbines, accounting for its energy use through clean energy production offsite, and reducing the amount of energy required through design optimization”. Achieving it is not entirely dependent on the building being efficient, but on reducing the energy load, and then employing renewable energy to offset the remaining energy. An example of net-zero energy buildings is the Net Zero Energy House by Lifethings, where the client wanted a house based on common sense in its design, construction, and budget. The 230 sqm house includes photovoltaic panels, solar heat collection tubes, wood burning boiler, four kitchens and four bathrooms, all built with a modest budget.

Net Zero Energy House / Lifethings. Image © Kyungsub Shin

Net-Zero Carbon

Net-zero carbon is achieved through reducing construction techniques and building materials that result in high carbon emissions. Put simply, Net Zero Carbon = Total Carbon Emitted – Total Carbon Avoided. Reducing embodied carbon through a concise material selection and construction techniques often results in a decrease in harmful chemical off-gassing, which affects the occupants’ productivity and wellbeing. The Courtyard House by Manoj Patel Design Studio promotes carbon positive and net-zero operations through smart planning of space and material selection, all while ensuring the emotional and physical well-being of its occupants. Clay tiles on the facade are cut and interlocked in a way that explores wall hangings from the sky and compliments the white volume. The structure meets all climatic and aesthetic needs of the space, particularly through the square patterns which parallel the projections of the sun during the day and make room for cool air only to flow in through the pores.

The Courtyard House / Manoj Patel Design Studio. Image © MKG Studio

Carbon Emissions & Fossil Fuels

Carbon emissions, or greenhouse gas emissions, are emissions emerging from the manufacturing of cement and burning of fossil fuels, and are considered the main reason behind climate change. Fossil fuel is another term used to describe non-renewable carbon-based energy sources such as coal, natural and derived gas, crude oil, and petroleum products. Although they originate from plants and animals, fossil fuels can be also made by industrial mixtures of other fossil fuels, such as the transformation of crude oil to motor gasoline. It is estimated that almost 80% of all manmade greenhouse gas emissions originate from fossil fuels combustion, with the construction industry being one of its biggest contributors.

Courtesy of cove.tool
Sustainability

By definition, sustainability is when a subject can be sustained, meaning that it can be maintained at length without being interrupted, disintegrated, or weakened in the long run. In architecture, however, the term “sustainability” has been used in various contexts. Some of which is to indicate being eco-conscious, an environmentalist, or “meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” using natural, social, and economic resources. Looking at all the “sustainable” projects that have been developed and are being proposed, it aims to be a holistic approach that takes into account three pillars: the environmentsociety, and economy, all mediated together to ensure vitality and durability. Sustainability is not just implemented on an architectural level through recycled materials and construction techniques, but also on an urban scale. The European Commission, for instance, adopted several nationwide proposals that pushed the continent a step further towards implementing the European Green Deal, an action plan that transforms the EU into a modern, resource-efficient, and competitive economy.

Zero House / Tenio. Image © AWESOME
Passive Design

By definition, “passive solar energy is the collection and distribution of energy obtained by the sun using natural, non-mechanical means”, which in architecture, has provided buildings with heat, lighting, mechanical power, and electricity as naturally as possible. The configuration behind passive systems consists of three types: direct gain, indirect gain, and isolated gain, and takes into account design strategies such as: location with respect to the sun, the overall shape and orientation of a project, allocating interior rooms with respect to the sun and wind, window placement, sheltered entrance, choosing materials that absorb heat, glass facades / solar windows where necessary, implementing trombe walls, skylights, water features, and shading elements, to name a few.

Conservatory. Image © Onnis Luque
Adaptive Reuse

Architects and urban designers have a responsibility of ensuring that the spaces people live in cater to them, the environment, the society as a whole, and maintain its cultural and historic value. However, recent years highlighted numerous socio-cultural predicaments related to the built environment such as housing crises, demolition of historic landmarks, lack of green areas, etc. One way of dealing with these crises was by reusing old structures and complimenting them with new elements or functions instead of opting for complete demolition and reconstruction, which would have inevitably generated a much bigger carbon footprint. Adaptive reuse can be executed in the form of reusing materialsinterventions in pre-existing architecturesreclaiming abandoned architecture, or changing the original function of the space.

Convent de Sant Francesc / David Closes. Image © Jordi Surroca

This article is part of the ArchDaily Topics: The Road to Net Zero Architecture presented by Rander Tegl.

Randers Tegl aims to take responsibility and think sustainable as a part of reaching the goal of Net Zero. Both in terms of how building materials impact the climate and how the materials age, but also with a focus on architecture. That is why Randers Tegl created their sustainable series GREENER, which comes with full documentation in the form of EPD, so it is possible to use the product in technical calculation programs.

Read the original article on ArchDaily.

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