What is Global Warming?
Global warming is simply the temperature rise that has been
seen across the world since temperature records began in 1880. The National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration states that surface temperatures rose a total of
0.95 oC between 1880 and 2016, and the change has been an additional
0.07 oC per decade. (Pappas, 2017) Further to this, the Paris
Agreement, ratified in summer 2017, aims to stop the warming at 1.5 oC
above the earths average temperature. Pappas (2017) notes that this goal is seen
by most scientists and policy makers as a challenge to meet.
Global warming occurs ‘due to an increase in the concentrations of certain
trace greenhouse gases.’ Willmont Dixon Pg 2 (2010). Greenhouse gases heat up
the planet via the greenhouse effect caused by reaction between the earth’s
atmosphere and radiation from the sun. Carbon dioxide is the most common
greenhouse gas, produced whenever fossil fuels are burnt to obtain energy. Today
there are 400 molecules of carbon dioxide in the air per every million air
molecules which is just under double what is was at the start of the industrial
Greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere, until recently,
have been balanced out by those that are naturally absorbed. Now, due to the
amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increasing by more than a third since
the industrial revolution, global warming is changing the climate faster than
some living things may be able to adapt which is where the issue lies.
How global warming effects mankind.
There are several major ways climate change affects the world:
By melting ice,
Drying out already-arid areas, by
Causing weather extremes
Disrupting the balance of the oceans.
For the UK especially, the government has identified flooding from heavy downpours
as one of the key climate threats for the UK (2012) This is due to extremely
wet winters, intense downpours along with rising sea levels becoming more
likely within the next 100 years. On the other hand, the UK could experience
warmer drier summers in the future.
These effects cause issues and burdens on human life. These can include (but
not limited to):
Effects on the economy through inability to supply raw
materials or commodities
Migration patterns changing due to climate, plant and
Water Shortages and restrictions due to declining
(Clark, 2013) https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/oct/08/potential-impacts-climate-change-uk
Table 1 Climate change and cities
Crown (2012) The UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2012 Evidence Report
Global warming as its title suggests is a global wide phenomenon, the way it
will and can affect places will vary from region to region to city to city.
and the built environment is one of the least sustainable industries in the
world (WD Re-Thinking Ltd), with around half of all non-renewable resources consumed.
The natural environment has been used by humankind to improve its comfort and
needs; we live in houses, we work and socialise in buildings of all different types,
we use roads and transport to get around. Modern human life is dependent on
buildings and what they contain for its existence and survival, the problem
lies with the fact our planet cannot support the current level of resource consumption
associated with them.
the built environment should and is looking at ways to reduce the impact its
having on the natural environment and to reduce its effect towards global
warming. The objective as suggested by Prasad, (2017) should be to move towards
sustainable development which focuses on three key issues: renewable energy,
urban design and transportation and sustainable development.
Figures from CIBE
Techniques to tackle Global warming
Pg. 11 Buildings briefing pdf
There are techniques that can be used and applied to the built environment to
reduce its effect on global warming. These can include:
Passive measures of more effective insulation, improved
airtightness and greater thermal mass.
Make more use of renewable energy such as solar energy.
Incorporate a range of new technologies to reduce their
Cut the energy needed to build them, and the embodied
energy within the materials used.
Construction Processes and Renewable energy
The first technique that can be used to reduce the built environments impact
on global warming is by having more control over its manufacture of materials.
The use of non-renewable energy contributes to climate change through the
production of CO2 emissions, water vapour, methane and nitrous oxide and the
pollutants produced by synthetic chemicals used in the construction process.
Materials such as Portland Cement are produced as they are a core material
of the construction industry, therefore the processes can’t be stopped or
changed. However, measures can be applied reduce the embodied energy used to
create them. For example, using waste products to fuel furnaces, such as tyres,
or food waste.
Whole tyres can be used as a fuel within cement kilns. Over 1Bn tyres are
sold worldwide each year, which causes around 1Bn tyres to be scrapped (Pro
Global Media LTD, 2011) https://www.cemfuels.com/articles/318-tyres-as-an-alternative-fuel.
They are rolled or dropped into a kiln where they are almost instantly burned
and because of the high temperatures produce no smoke or harmful emission.
Secondly, once a building has been built, it needs to use energy to run appliances
such as fridges and cookers, to boilers. Traditionally gas, and electricity
have been used to provide this energy. However, in recent times renewable
energy has been considered as an alternative. Renewables accounted for
two-thirds of new power added to world’s grids last year, and, solar power was
the fastest growing source of new energy during 2016. (Vaughan 2017)
Fig from website
Solar panels use the suns energy to power homes, capture the sun’s energy
using photovoltaic cells. Using modern solar tiles will replace ordinary roof
tiles, avoiding the aesthetics of large ugly solar panels
Fig 2 from website re solar pv
Sustainability and BREEAM
Sustainability is key within the Built Environment as there
are limits to what the planet can do in terms of natural resources, land, sun,
water and increasing population. National policies within the built environment
exist to try and cut CO2 emissions and decrease the effects of Global Warming,
These policies ensure efficient, environmentally friendly
and sociably acceptable development.
Work based policies also exist where contractors, clients
and consultants consider and implement how will implement a range of
sustainability priorities. These policies can include:
using materials from sustainable sources and environmentally
keeping pollutants such as noise and dust to a minimum
Benefits of the strategies listed above, include everyday
business energy savings, material selection, design options and construction
processes. Within sustainability, sharing experiences and what has been learnt
on a project regarding developing and implementing strategies is of upmost
importance to encourage a wider uptake of sustainability and carbon reduction
New buildings must be designed to cope with the effects of climate change
and to strive to reduce the effect they have on global warming. Schemes such as
BREAM exist to try to create a sustainable built environment, where human
comfort and care for the surrounding environment is key, minimising impacts on
the global and local environment whilst maximising:
resource efficiencyhealth, wellbeing, comfort,
safety and security of users and otherssocial and cultural valueopportunities for effective
and efficient use of facilitiesdirect and indirect
Thoughtful planning and design at an early stage of a project can have a
major impact on reducing energy use and pollution over a building’s entire
lifetime. Sustainable solutions can provide financial savings and environmental
Reduction of materials and waste
The construction industry generates one third of the UK’s waste production,
it generates the largest total waste. (Waste and Resources Action Programme,
n.d) By controlling waste material on site and being more efficient with
materials, the depletion of finite resources and damage to the environment
would be reduced. Construction waste overall is potentially hazardous and
therefore disposal and management carefully planned, waste represents a loss
of resources, loss of money and reduced sustainability. (BRE 2008) http://constructingexcellence.org.uk/resources/key-issues-in-sustainable-construction/
Traditionally landfill sites have been the most common and organised method
of waste disposal. According to a recent report by the Wates Group (2006), the
UK construction industry sends 36 million tonnes of waste to landfill sites
each year. Landfills are dangerous to the environment due to:
local air pollution particularly in
the form of dust,
nuisance and disease (e.g. from
rats and flies).
Good practise of waste management
can be achieved bt using site wastement plans, implemented at the beginning of
a project, using waste streams and waste segregation which encourages the use
of the Waste Hierarchy – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Fig 15 from assessment
The built environment and the population, infrastructure
and ecology of cities within it are all at risk from the impacts of Global
warming. However, with available technology and tools it is easier to address
some of the worst effects.
Low energy construction and
retrofits are becoming economically attractive due to improvements in
performance and costs. Major energy savings exist in the mostly wasteful
and inefficient buildings of developed countries, and at the same time it is
important that developing counties which require shelter and basic services use
effective policies to create climate resilient buildings that use energy
efficiently. A key to this is the know-how of sustainable construction. Sustainability is at the heart of combatting global
warming. Instead of battling against the natural environment, it is about
creating a better balance between human need and the wider environment.
By looking at the construction industry, from material
production and embodied energy to building life, it can be assessed where
changes can be made to curb the effects it has on global warming. Methods such
as sustainable development, including recycling, and material sourcing along
with using certifications such as BREEAM all have a reducing effect. These are some of the most environmentally and
cost-effective methods of emission reduction – if well designed and implemented.
Adopting and improving these, and extending them to more scenarios will be key
in achieveing and reaching the climate goals set by governing bodies and to
help to adapt to the changing climate.