Report: Green buildings carry lower life cycle cost

Am­bi­ka Ja­gas­sars­ingh

am­bi­ka ja­gas­sars­

With the rise in con­cern on the is­sue of cli­mate change, there is in­creas­ing pres­sure on in­dus­tries, such as con­struc­tion to min­imise its en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts for a more sus­tain­able fu­ture.

As the world pro­gress­es and more struc­tures are erect­ed, the con­struc­tion in­dus­try is one of the largest con­sumers of nat­ur­al re­sources, and al­so a large pro­duc­er of car­bon diox­ide.

One civ­il en­gi­neer, An­drew Chin Lee in his Mas­ter’s the­sis for the Uni­ver­si­ty of the West In­dies (UWI), fo­cused on how sus­tain­able con­struc­tion prac­tices can af­fect the over­all prof­itabil­i­ty of the in­dus­try.

He stat­ed, “the prac­tice of sus­tain­abil­i­ty is the pre­ven­tion of nat­ur­al re­sources and de­ple­tion to pre­serve eco­log­i­cal equi­lib­ri­um.”

While con­struc­tion prac­tices have evolved from me­dieval times, which is nec­es­sary to keep up with glob­al­i­sa­tion, there are some set­backs.

“Con­struc­tion prac­tices and method­olo­gies have pro­gressed from the first builders to mod­ern con­struc­tors to­day. Tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ments, as well as its prac­tices, have fa­cil­i­tat­ed this with­in the in­dus­try. How­ev­er, there are a pletho­ra of is­sues that ac­com­pa­ny these break­throughs – in­creased pol­lu­tion and over­con­sump­tion.”

Ac­cord­ing to him, im­ple­ment­ing lead­er­ship in en­er­gy and en­vi­ron­men­tal de­sign (LEED) prin­ci­ples when con­struct­ing, is ben­e­fi­cial on mul­ti­ple lev­els.

“LEED-cer­ti­fied build­ings re­duce costs, in­crease pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, re­duce car­bon emis­sions, and make ur­ban ar­eas health­i­er for oc­cu­pants. This sys­tem is es­sen­tial to con­front the cli­mate prob­lem, im­prove liv­ing con­di­tions and cli­mate re­silience, and cre­ate more equal com­mu­ni­ties, ac­cord­ing to the US En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency (EPA) (Azarov 2018),” said Chin Lee.

One such way his the­sis ex­plores is through the prac­tice of green roof­ing sys­tems. The study stat­ed that, “Green roof­ing tech­niques en­cour­age en­er­gy cost re­duc­tions and im­prove the lo­cal ecol­o­gy. These mea­sure­ments en­cour­age a sus­tain­able ap­proach to in­fra­struc­ture and the built en­vi­ron­ment (Naran­jo 2020).”

The study added that through the use of this method, a build­ing’s en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact can be re­duced since, “over­lay­ing a roof or any ex­ter­nal part of a build­ing with veg­e­ta­tion can re­duce heat flux and re­flec­tiv­i­ty of so­lar rays, which con­tribute to cool­ing via evap­o­ra­tion, there­by in­creas­ing a bet­ter rate of ther­mal per­for­mance (Hewage 2013).”

These sus­tain­able sys­tems are not nec­es­sar­i­ly lim­it­ed to roof­ing since veg­e­ta­tion sys­tems can al­so be done in …


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