Buildings account for about 40% of world CO2 emissions, so it’s no wonder why a lot focus goes toward green constructing systems and reduced emissions from corporate structures. Reducing this structural carbon footprint will help counter climate change and push us toward the goals outlined within the Paris Agreement and other climate motion pacts.
To provide help to plan and work toward lowering emissions from corporate buildings, you’ll be able to look to a GHG emissions reduction audit checklist for constructing owners. These audit checklists and GHG inventory management can all provide help to reach your carbon emissions goals.
Proceed reading for more about these audits and the actions you’ll be able to take to scale back your constructing’s emissions.
How Do You Reduce GHG in Buildings?
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG emissions) in buildings starts when construction begins and continues throughout the constructing’s lifespan. Let’s review methods to reduce emissions in each stages to attenuate a constructing’s environmental impact.
GHG Emissions Reduction Audit Checklist for Constructing Owners During Construction
Starting on the best foot regarding GHG emissions reductions for constructing owners begins at the development phase. In fact, none of this can apply if we’re talking about an existing constructing. Nonetheless, in the event you’re constructing a latest constructing, the following tips will help lower the carbon footprint of erecting a latest constructing.
Reuse Old Buildings
As an alternative of commissioning a latest constructing, you’ll be able to reduce emissions by reusing an old constructing. The truth is, by doing this, you’ll be able to save 50% to 75% of the embodied carbon emissions — the emissions related to the materials and construction process — relative to latest construction.
So, when considering a latest constructing, think to yourself, “Is there an existing constructing we will renovate to suit our needs?” In that case, you’ll be able to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by rehabilitating the old constructing. Plus, you need to use a number of the character in older industrial buildings to your advantage within the design phase.
Remember, that when reusing older buildings, you’ll likely have some extra work for efficiency improvements, however the emissions savings will easily offset that need.
Use Low-Carbon Concrete
Concrete production isn’t known for its GHG emissions, but its sheer weight and the quantity that goes right into a latest constructing make it the most important embodied carbon source in lots of projects. The truth is, cement accounts for a whopping 7% of all global emissions and 50% to 85% of the embodied carbon in a constructing project.
You possibly can reduce your constructing’s carbon footprint by choosing lower-emission concrete, equivalent to those with fly ash, slag, or calcined clays. You possibly can even go for lower-strength concrete where it is sensible.
Limit Carbon-Heavy Materials
Materials with big carbon footprints, equivalent to metals, plastic, and foam, could be a a part of the development process but seek low-carbon alternatives where possible to assist with the decarbonization of your project.
So, consider a picket as a substitute of a steel structure to succeed in your constructing’s GMG emissions reduction goals. Or possibly go for picket siding as a substitute of vinyl.
Through the construction or renovation process, don’t immediately scrap all of the old materials. A lot of those materials, equivalent to metal, bricks, concrete, and wood, are reusable. And every item you reuse directly reduces your project’s emission aspects. Plus, it’s a more cost-effective option to construct.
Deal with Recycled Materials
Recycled materials will help greatly lower the GHG emissions in your constructing or renovation project. For instance, latest steel can have five times the carbon footprint of recycled steel. On top of lowering your carbon footprint, recycled materials are sometimes cheaper than latest materials.
Minimize Finished Materials
Finishings like vinyl flooring or carpeting add to the carbon footprint of your project. As an alternative of going with these finishings, select materials that don’t need finishings, equivalent to polished concrete for the floors.
GHG Emissions Reduction Audit Checklist for Constructing Owners After Construction
After construction, you’re still liable for keeping the continued constructing emissions as little as possible, whether through improved energy efficiency, reduced waste, or improved sustainability. Let’s review some motion plans constructing owners can take to make sure they improve their energy conservation and the constructing’s ongoing GMG emissions remain low.
Update Heating and Cooling
Heating, ventilation, and air con (HVAC) make up 40% to 60% of all constructing carbon emissions, so this area is ripe for cutting. First, ensure you may have an efficient system installed, equivalent to a number of the newer passive heating and cooling setups.
It’s also a superb idea to have a programmable system. You possibly can program it to a hotter setting during off-hours and a snug setting during occupancy hours.
Also, most buildings have outdoor air ventilation to maintain the within fresh, but the problem is this method runs always and all the time must be heated or cooled. You possibly can counter this by installing air-quality sensors that detect when ventilation is crucial and activate this method only when needed.
This can help reduce your energy consumption, lower overall energy costs, and shrink your constructing’s footprint.
Perform Lighting Upgrades
Some ways to instantly lower the carbon footprint of your lighting is to install smart lights that only activate when an area is in use and to switch all inefficient incandescent lights with more eco-friendly LED lighting. You may as well add some daylighting to certain areas of the constructing, making the most of the greenest of all lights — the sun.
Install Renewable Energy
Offset some or your whole buildings’ energy use by installing renewable energy, equivalent to solar panels. These energy efficiency measures could have significant upfront expenses, but federal and local government incentives and overall electricity savings will help make up for this cost.
By installing green appliances, you’ll be able to lower energy consumption and increase energy savings. For instance, you’ll be able to replace old and inefficient boilers and water heaters with more efficient solar water heaters to lower electricity or natural gas usage when generating hot water. You possibly can even swap old hard-wired ventilation fans with solar-powered ones to enhance energy performance.
Reduce Water Waste
Sustainable water use can even go a good distance in reducing your environmental impact and cutting operational costs. Some ways to assist lower water use and waste include retrofitting low-flow water fixtures, reclaiming water systems for non-potable water recycling, and collecting rainwater to be used in on-site irrigation and ornamental water features.
How Do You Conduct a GHG Inventory?
First, what’s a greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory? In accordance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it’s “an inventory of emission sources and the associated emissions quantified using standardized methods.”
The EPA outlines the GHG inventory development process in 4 steps: scope and plan, collect and quantify data, create a GHG inventory management plan, and set targets, track, and report. Let’s review these 4 steps in additional detail.
Step 1: Scope and Plan
To conduct a GHG inventory, you begin by reviewing the organization’s GHG accounting methods and the way it reports on these emissions. The organization and its stakeholders must then determine the organization’s emissions boundaries, select a base 12 months to begin from, and consider bringing in a 3rd party to confirm the improvements.
Step 2: Collect and Quantify Data
Within the second step, you’ll discover all of the GHG data required and the popular data-collection methods. Then, you’ll develop procedures, tools, and guidance that adhere to those requirements. After that, gather and review all the power data, equivalent to electricity and natural gas consumption from the baseline 12 months you selected, and use estimation to fill in any data gaps. From there, you’ll be able to calculate your emissions.
Step 3: Create a GHG Inventory Management Plan
Next, you‘ll create formal data collection procedures and document processes within the inventory management plan. This can include all institutional, managerial, and technical arrangements made for data collection, inventory preparation, and implementation of steps to administer inventory quality.
This management system ensures a scientific process is in place to assist prevent and proper errors and discover where investments net the best improvements in inventory quality. Nonetheless, this method’s important focus is to make sure the credibility of the organization’s GHG inventory data using five key GHG accounting principles, which we’ll cover later.
Overall, your inventory management plan may have seven key steps:
- Create a listing quality team.
- Create a top quality management plan.
- Perform generic quality tests.
- Perform source-specific quality tests.
- Review final inventory estimates and reports.
- Institutionalize formal feedback loops.
- Report, document, and archive data.
Step 4: Set Targets, Track, and Report
With the method in place, it’s now time to set your building-emissions-reduction targets relative to the bottom 12 months you chose and, in the event you like, usher in a 3rd party to confirm your targets are attainable and helpful. You’ll then report all data as needed, publish a public GHG goal report, and track your progress toward effective energy management and emissions reductions.
What Is the Standard for GHG Accounting?
Greenhouse gas emissions accounting and reporting have to be based on five key principles. The principles are as follows:
- Relevance: The GHG inventory must appropriately reflect the corporate’s GHG emissions and serve internal and external users’ decision-making needs.
- Completeness: The organization must account for and report all sources of GHG emissions and activities throughout the chosen boundaries. It must also disclose and justify any GHG emissions it excluded.
- Consistency: A corporation’s methodologies must remain consistent to permit accurate and meaningful GHG emission comparisons.
- Transparency: Address all relevant issues factually and coherently using a transparent audit trail. If relevant assumptions are used, the organization must disclose them and make appropriate references.
- Accuracy: Make sure the GHG emissions quantification is neither over nor under the actual emissions and that uncertainties are reduced as much as possible. The organization must also ensure sufficient accuracy so users can determine based on the reported information’s integrity.
How Do You Measure GHG Emissions in a Constructing?
Emissions from a constructing can are available in all three scopes: scope one, scope two, and scope three. When calculating GHG emissions from a constructing, you need to consider all three scopes, which may make it tricky.
Scope one emissions are relatively easy to trace, as these are direct GHG emissions, equivalent to burning fossil fuels. To calculate GHG emissions on this scope, review resource consumption on utility bills, and use a calculator to find out the GHG emissions that quantity of consumption made.
Scope two emissions are indirect GHG emissions that stem from the constructing’s energy usage from the electrical grid. So, if your organization’s electricity comes from a coal-fired plant, this is able to include your constructing’s share of that plant’s emissions based in your energy consumption.
You possibly can estimate your scope two emissions using a GHG emissions calculator and the constructing information, equivalent to square feet. Consider, getting a precise number is usually impossible because many power grids include multiple energy sources, including coal, natural gas, nuclear, and solar.
Finally, scope three emissions include GHG emissions from all other sources, including the availability chain and other business operations that should not throughout the organization’s control. When it comes to a constructing, this may include all embodied carbon too.
Scope three emissions are difficult to trace and are generally not within the organization’s control, for that reason, organizations normally aren’t required to report on them. Nonetheless, monitoring, understanding, and reducing scope three emissions can provide help to create a green constructing.
Help Fight Global Warming by Auditing and Reducing Your Constructing’s GHG Emissions
Global warming and climate change are critical, and it’s time for everybody to chip in and do their part. This includes constructing owners reducing their buildings’ carbon footprints. Fortunately, GHG emissions reduction audit checklists for constructing owners will help on this process by providing you with firm steps to follow and the information it is advisable successfully reduce your structural carbon footprint.
Should you’re not yet able to tackle the duty of reducing constructing emissions or have already got and need to further decrease your corporate carbon footprint, we now have options for you at Terrapass. Try our voluntary carbon credits, and see how they will help offset any remaining corporate emissions, helping you attain or catch up with to being a net-zero carbon emitter.
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