Focus on three aspects when building: carbon, cost and time

There are many practical measures that can be implemented to reduce carbon emissions in buildings, says Dr. Torill Bigg, Chartered Chemical Engineer, Tunley Engineering. What is important is thinking ahead and taking the environment into account from the very beginning. Carbon, as well as cost and time, should be a key consideration.

On materials, for example, “30% of a construction job would be embodied carbon so you must consider the materials that you’re using, the source of the materials and the countries those materials come from”, she told Real Asset Insight’s Richard Betts.

It is better to opt for a countries that are closer and where the energy mix includes more renewables, “so choose Europe rather than Asia and you’ll be looking at a lower carbon footprint for the same material”, Bigg said.

Concrete can be a very carbon heavy material, but there are lots of different formulas now that reduce carbon emissions: “You just might have to arrange your building plan around the fact that it may take longer to harden, but you’ll be reducing your carbon footprint”.

Another smart move is building with re-use and re-purposing in mind from the beginning, she said, making them flexible: “We have to be able to treat our buildings as material stores of the future, and at some point a new carbon-friendly technology will come along and you want to be able to incorporate it into your building once it is in operation”.

The same thinking should apply to the building’s maintenance. “You should have a dynamic maintenance strategy as opposed to a reactive maintenance strategy”, said Bigg. “Dynamic maintenance means that you follow the performance of your asset by monitoring the data so you can intervene when a greater amount of energy is being used, so if energy is being lost through friction or hear as the equipment starts to run less efficiently, then you can intervene. By maintaining your asset you are also reducing your carbon footprint”.

Click on the video to watch the full interview or listen to the podcast below.