What does it mean to be carbon neutral?
Simply expressed, Net Zero Carbon indicates that a project’s total greenhouse gas emissions over its entire life cycle should be zero or less. These are some of the resources available:
- Impacts of operating energy and water on the life cycle
- Construction’s life-cycle impacts include material extraction, production, transportation to the job site, installation, and waste, as well as repair, replacement, refurbishment, and end-of-life processing.
- Energy exported from the project to other customers provides benefits (avoided consequences).
- After the project is decommissioned, there are benefits (avoided repercussions from) reusing materials.
- Benefit from carbon sequestration that is permanent (if any)
That is all there is to it.
What is the significance of Net Zero Carbon?
In terms of business, net-zero carbon is important since top construction clients and cities demand it. Even if you don’t think climate change is a big deal, you still have to cater to market needs.
National governments, localities, and key long-term property investors have joined the World Green Building Council’s Advancing Net Zero Commitment, and many more are interested in adopting some of the best practices to retain their reputation as responsible businesses.
Net Zero Carbon is important from a global perspective because construction accounts for 39% of all world carbon emissions.
Decarbonization of the energy grid’s influence
Construction life-cycle carbon emissions have long been dominated by operational energy. Sustainable energy policies, on the other hand, have transformed the game.
For any building with a lifetime of 50 years or longer, energy grid decarbonization means that materials’ life-cycle impacts are the major source of life-cycle emissions.
Moreover, the positive expansion of low-carbon energy has had the unintended consequence of making it more difficult to offset emissions by exporting energy. Before the grid to which you export has attained zero emissions, you must export enough energy to offset your emissions.
Finally, all of this adds to the importance of carbon-based materials.
There are seven design solutions for reaching net-zero carbon emissions.
Reduce your project’s emissions as much as possible by:
1. Reducing the demand for virgin materials.
2. Reducing the need for fossil fuels.
Incorporate the ideas of the circular economy by:
3. Reusing and repurposing existing structures and materials.
4. Choosing longer-lasting goods to reduce the need for material replacements during the construction life cycle.
5. Make your materials and structures repurposable through designing for flexibility, deconstruction, and reuse.
To attain net-zero carbon, restore climate balance by:
6. Finding alternative sources of energy to replace fossil fuels.
7. Carbon sequestration (biogenic).
End-of-life material use and, in the case of cementitious materials, carbonization during and after the building’s lifetime, provide some climatic benefits.
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