Why Building are Important to Climate Change

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Buildings have a direct impact on estimated global climate change due to their large carbon footprint. From an energy use perspective, buildings in the United States are responsible for about 40% of the national total carbon dioxide emissions [13] and approximately 9.8% of the global carbon dioxide emissions, which is greater than the carbon emissions of the complete economies of Japan, France, and the United Kingdom combined [3]. This direct production of greenhouse gasses (GHGs) becomes even more significant when one considers the additional GHGs that are produced through the manufacture of the materials and products used in building construction. Combined with the transport of both construction and waste products, the carbon footprint of the built environment is substantial. It should be noted here that building energy usage and CO2 emissions are influenced by the type of materials and construction practices used in their construction. This is exemplified by the extraction of natural resources and the production, transportation, and disposal of non-food goods being estimated to be 35% of U.S. CO2 emissions [14].

Residential and commercial buildings account for 35% of the total global energy consumption. In the United States, the energy usage by the built environment outpaces both transportation (28%) and industrial energy use (32%) (See Fig. 7.1) [3]. Studies indicate that buildings are responsible for 71% of the total electricity consumption [3]. There has been a prolonged and substantial increase in electrical demand since 1973. Data in 2003 indicated that electricity accounted for 38% of energy consumption in the commercial and residential sectors in the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries [17]. Over the last 30 years there has been a shift in the fuel that buildings use. Oil, although it has

Other 4%

Cooking 2% I Computers 3% Refrigeration 4% Office Equipment 6% ^B Ventilation 6%

Water Heating 7% Cooling 13% Heating 14%

Other 4%

Electronics 7% Wet Clean 5% Refrigeration 8% Cooling 12% Lights 11% Water Heating 12%

I Heating 31%

Cooking 2% I Computers 3% Refrigeration 4% Office Equipment 6% ^B Ventilation 6%

Water Heating 7% Cooling 13% Heating 14%

Lights 26%

Other 13%

Fig. 7.1 Energy consumption in the United States. 2007 DOE buildings energy book (Tables 1.1.3, 1.2.3, 1.3.3). Note: "industry" includes energy used by facilities and equipment

Other 13%

Lights 26%

Fig. 7.1 Energy consumption in the United States. 2007 DOE buildings energy book (Tables 1.1.3, 1.2.3, 1.3.3). Note: "industry" includes energy used by facilities and equipment continued to increase in absolute terms has lost ground to natural gas and electricity and currently accounts for 18% of the energy supply. Natural gas has now become the dominant fuel in residential buildings, while electricity is the dominant fuel in commercial buildings [4].

New products and technologies are being developed to make buildings more environmentally acceptable. There are many R&D efforts aimed at lowering the consumption of energy, material resources, water, and the associated volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions and pollutant impacts on the building occupants. These activities are changing the way that buildings are designed and maintained, engineered, renovated, and demolished. It has been reported in several sources that current high performance building practices could reduce energy consumption by an average of 30-50% [16].

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