Track 1: Effects of Climate Change in Warm Weather Coastal Regions
When it comes to climate action, architects, developers and policy makers are way too focused on new buildings The current gold standard for reducing emissions from buildings is to build new, zero net energy (zne) buildings -- very efficient and powered by renewable energy sources. Given that we will continue to need new buildings, this is a critical piece of getting to a carbon neutral built environment. But there is a problem with this strategy – building all of those new structures will generate a lot of emissions. Even though new zne buildings don’t add operating emissions, they still have a huge and immediate carbon footprint, and they don’t reduce operating emissions from the buildings we already have.
Operating all of the new buildings we build each year adds a negligible amount of GHG to our global total but the embodied emissions from building those new structures account for about 11% of global emissions, and operating all of the buildings we already have are responsible for about 28% of global emissions. We need to reduce embodied emission from new construction and we need to reduce operating emissions from our existing buildings.
Reusing buildings is one of the most effective strategies we have to accomplish this because reusing a building even with renovations has a much lower embodied carbon footprint than building a new one and when the renovation includes efficiency upgrades and switching to cleaner sources ofpower it also reduces the existing building’s operating emissions, thereby lowering current global emissions. Reusing buildings will not eliminate the need for new buildings, but if we can reuse more of what we have we can reduce the total number of new building we will need to build.
Buildings with historic and cultural significance are an important sub-category of our existing building stock. From a climate point of view we need to save and upgrade as many buildings as we can, but because some buildings are seen as having more value than others, these buildings can serve as catalysts for saving and revitalizing neighborhoods; they can provide examples of passive, resilient design, and can demonstrate how new, low carbon technologies can improve the building we value the most.
This session will identify the magnitude and sources of emissions from new and existing buildings; provide an overview of building reuse and carbon reduction strategies - with case studies that document the reductions achieved; and review the current and proposed programs and incentives that support building reuse, efficiency upgrades and carbon reduction.