Why carbon conscious design?

  We are all aware of the environmental impact of man’s activities on our planet.

Buildings currently account for around half our fuel consumption and it is the burning of fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas – either directly in our buildings or in central power stations, providing energy for space heating, water heating, cooling, ventilation and lighting, which results in the production of large quantities of carbon dioxide.  It is now the widely accepted view that it is principally the release of this gas into the atmosphere at a rate which is increasingly inhibiting the re-radiation of heat from the surface of the earth and thus causing global warming, commonly known as the Greenhouse Effect.

If current trends continue, the anticipated increase in global temperatures will have significant climatological and ecological consequences.  In the last hundred years the earth has warmed up by more than half a degree.  The result of further increases in temperature could be flooding of low lying land on a disastrous scale due to the physical expansion of the oceans and dramatic changes in weather patterns resulting in serious environmental and economic effects.

Buildings have been described as the key to energy conservation and are the key to the significant long term reduction in the burning of fossil fuels which contribute to the Greenhouse Effect.  Professionals in the construction industry have a crucial role to play.  They carry the responsibility for planning, design and construction and the choice of appropriate materials and environmental systems, decisons which affect the level of carbon emissions and hence the global environment.

Extract  from ‘A Client’s Energy and Environment Briefing Guide’, Roger Burton, 1990

Concerns about changes to the climate resulting from the impact of human activities highlighted here three decades ago continue to grow.  We are witnessing increasing global temperatures and a higher frequency of severe weather events which need our urgent action. Our built environment urgently needs to reduce emissions in both the construction process and in use if we are to ameliorate these effects.

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