The Chinese Hoax of Climate Change

The Chinese Hoax of Climate Change –in the words of president elect –  Mr.Trump

With regard to climate change , I’ve  got some good news and some bad news. May be it is best to start with the bad and end with the good.

The bad news is that sadly climate change is not a hoax despite popular belief it is very much a reality and the signs are all around us. Temperatures are rising; polar ice caps melting, droughts, floods, famine need I say more? The question is however, the relevance of the topic on this architecture blog.

This is where I hit you with some more bad news…. The building sector contributes up to 30% of global annual greenhouse gas emissions. The good news however; is that the building sector has the potential for greatly reducing greenhouse emissions when compared to other major emitting sectors.

And better news is knowing that WE can make a difference. WE can help. WE the architects, WE the stakeholders, WE the clients hold the power to make the right choices and to make a difference. It is important that we understand that.

Let me try to simplify why the construction sector contributes to 30% and how we can help change that. Any building can be divided into 5 phases

  1. Manufacturing of building materials (‘embedded’ energy)
  2. Transport of these materials from production plants to building sites (‘grey’ energy)
  3. Construction of the building (‘induced’ energy)
  4. Operation of the building electricity, air conditioning, water and sewage management (‘operational’ energy)
  5. Recycling or demolition of the building

At each phase we consume energy and expulse enormous amount of carbon dioxide. Let us just take phase 1 of any construction and let us take an example of one material.

I can safely say India’s favourite building material is Cement, people have undying faith in this material for reasons I fail to understand. Masons feel it is the answer to all of life’s problems, badly done brick wall – cement plaster it. Badly done concrete- cement plaster the concrete. If a heritage building requires repair – cement it. I have even seen (to my horror) wooden beams being repaired by filling it with cement. Perhaps I will delve into the details of it in another post. For now let us just look at this material and see how much it effects our environment.

Cement manufacturing is highly energy – and – emissions intensive because of the extreme heat required to produce it .A cement industry accounts for around 5% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. According to an article produced by Columbia University, concrete is the second most consumed substance on Earth after water.

In spite of knowing all these figures and numbers we continue to move “forward’ (or should I say backward) converting more and more of our buildings into cement or a product of it, like an ode to our love for it. From cement in the mortar to cement blocks in our walls and finally finishing with cement plaster. Imagine the consequences if we don’t stop now, if India continues to grow on this trend.

The power lies in making informed decisions, choose your materials wisely, reduce the amount of high energy intensive materials in your building. There are alternatives that can be made at every Phase of the building. Know your options, be an agent of change.

We at masons Ink realise our responsibility to the environment and strive to reduce the carbon footprint of all our buildings. We urge you to do the same, architect, client and stake holder alike, ours is a shared responsibility. Let us act on it.

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