Carbon neutral buildings are a sub category of low-carbon buildings. Carbon neutral buildings are buildings which are specifically engineered to release no GHG at all or to balance the GHG emissions they produce using GHG trades.
During construction and operation, buildings release GHG in the atmosphere. GHG emissions associated with buildings construction are mainly coming from materials manufacturing, materials transport, demolition wastes transport, demolition wastes treatment etc.
The construction, renovation, and deconstruction of a typical building are on average responsible for the emissions of 1,000-1,500 kgCO2e/m.
GHG emissions from buildings are occurring due to electricity consumption, Consumption of fossil fuels on-site for the production of electricity, hot water, heat, etc., on-site waste water treatment, on-site solid wastes treatment, industrial processes housed in the buildings etc.
Strategies adopted by carbon-neutral buildings to reduce GHG emissions during construction include:
- Reduce quantity of materials used
- Select materials with low emissions factors associated (e.g., recycled materials)
- Select materials suppliers as close as possible from the construction site to reduce transport distances
- Divert demolition wastes to recycling instead of landfills or incineration
To reduce GHG emissions carbon neutral buildings normally adopt two methods ie by reducing energy consumption or by using 100% renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro, biofuels, geothermal, wave and tidal etc.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) headquarters in Nairobi has become the first carbon-neutral building in Africa by using solar power. A system of over 4,000 modules was installed on the roof of the new UNEP offices by German firm Energiebau Solarstromsysteme GmbH. The 515 kilowatt solar project was connected to the grid on February 21st, and is expected to generate more energy than the 1,200 employees in the building will need.
Solar energy has been something the U.N. has been targeting in Africa for years. And now that the building’s sustainable energy supply is online, it is the largest on-roof solar power system on the continent.
Aldo Leopold Foundation Headquarters, Fairfield (WI):
The Aldo Leopold Foundation Headquarters located in Fairfield, Wisconsin is the first LEED-platinum carbon neutral building. 30 percent of all building materials used on the project are from recycled materials. Also, this building include sustainable features like high efficiency, low – flow plumbing fixtures, Low-VOC adhesives, sealants, paints, flooring systems and composite wood products to improve air quality, Twenty three Solatube skylights on the second floor, Lighting fixtures equipped with occupancy sensors designed to turn off when there is no movement or noise for an extended period of time etc.
Kroon Hall, Yale University’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies:
Kroon Hall is Yale Universitie’s greenest building. Rainwater harvesting system and cleansing pond, recycled, recyclable, sustainably harvested or manufactured nontoxic materials, natural light and ventilation, geothermal energy system, solar hot water heaters, rooftop solar panels facing south, solar heat gain in winter and natural lighting year round along the long unobstructed south-facing wall, recycling of demolition and construction waste are some of the sustainable features of Kroon Hall building.
To read more about Kroon Hall building visit http://environment.yale.edu/kroon/concept.php
Related Terms in the Glossary: