Blog from Jane Marsh: Why We Need More Green Buildings for Combatting Emissions

Since the United Nations established the Paris Agreement, countries have recognized the importance of climate-protection regulations. Many nations independently developed environmental policies that target greenhouse gas emissions. Cities are generally areas of concern for ecologists when it comes to shrinking countries’ carbon footprints.

Urban areas produce more atmospheric pollution from transportation, energy production, and buildings. Professionals are integrating green buildings into sustainable cities to minimize emissions. Let’s explore the key features of green buildings and how they prioritize conservation.

Climate Change and Sustainable Development Regulations

Environmentalists evaluate the sustainability of buildings when establishing sustainability regulations because of their significant climate impacts. Together, residential and commercial buildings account for nearly 40% of energy-derived greenhouse gas emissions. Most of a building’s energy use comes from heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) plus lighting.

Most HVAC systems and lights run on conventional power supplies. About 80% of the global energy supply comes from fossil fuels. During the combustion phase, the power source releases greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, limiting its ability to maintain life-sufficient surface temperatures.

New York City sustainability professionals explored ecological degradation relating to buildings. They found that nearly 68% of the city’s emissions come from buildings. These professionals are leading the charge to establish regulations to implement more green building features and decrease emissions.

Cool Roofs

One of the key features of green buildings is a cool roof. Construction professionals often cover rooftops in asphalt shingles. The shingles’ dark color attracts solar energy, which heats a building.

On sunny days, rooftops can heat up to 150°F. When buildings overheat, their HVAC system must frequently run to maintain comfortable indoor temperatures. Cool roofs improve the energy efficiency of buildings by minimizing overheating.

The rooftop feature contains a reflective material that keeps buildings about 50°F cooler on warm days. Individuals can further decrease HVAC energy waste and emissions by installing efficiency-enhancing devices.

Energy-Efficient Devices

Environmental engineers use internet of things (IoT) advancements to increase urban sustainability levels. Smart thermostats connect to the internet and autonomously control indoor temperatures. They use sensors to monitor changes in internal and external temperatures.

Smart thermostats also connect to building owners’ smartphones, helping them control indoor conditions remotely. Over time, the technology can significantly improve a building’s energy efficiency and shrink its carbon footprint.

Rainwater Harvesting System

Urban areas can additionally improve their conservation efforts by decreasing natural resource exploitation.

Many green buildings minimize their reliance on conventional water supplies by installing rainwater harvesting systems. This technology works to reclaim and reuse stormwater. When it rains or snow melts, rainwater harvesting systems capture and store runoff in barrels.

An internal pump moves the water directly to irrigation systems or through a filter. Advanced filters can purify the runoff and convert it into a potable water supply, meaning individuals may use it to bathe, clean, drink, and wash clothes.

Renewable Energy

One of the most notable features of green buildings is renewable energy systems. Most sustainable builders place photovoltaic solar panels on buildings’ rooftops to decrease their reliance on fossil fuels. Accessing energy independently lowers utility costs and shrinks a structure’s carbon footprint.

Builders also install solar water heaters in green buildings to improve sustainability levels. One significant benefit of this heating technology is reliability. During power outages, facilities with solar heaters still produce warm water.

Green Construction Advancements

Engineers and scientists recognize the importance of green technology for sustainable building development. They are creating technological advancements to support green urbanization and development. One team of researchers is developing electrified heavy equipment for use on construction sites.

When builders use electric excavators and other equipment, they can significantly minimize construction site pollution. Another advancement supporting green buildings is solar windows. The technology uses transparent solar cells to produce clean energy.

Funding Sustainable Urbanization

Governments are also acknowledging the importance of green buildings by establishing sustainable tax incentives. Building owners can adopt renewable energy systems and other conservation features using public funding. When individuals purchase sustainable equipment, they can receive tax credits to support their investments.

About the author: Jane works as an environmental and energy writer. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of

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