Constructing a green future

Constructing a green future

Green mantra: Myths such as green buildings cost a lot more to build, need to be debunked before well-designed policy measures are implemented. Getty ImagesKiller typhoons in Taiwan and China and a failed monsoon in India. As the UN secretary-general pleads for action on climate change, politicians argue over who will bear the costs, it’s time to think different.
Instead of bickering about taxing industries on their carbon emissions, policy makers should formulate guidelines on one of the cheapest ways of tackling air pollution - making green buildings.

Surprisingly, buildings account for about one-third of global energy use while transportation, mostly cars, account for roughly another one-third.

Factories and mines make up the rest. A lot of attention has gone into making cars and factories more efficient since the first global energy shocks in the 1970s. But buildings have always been neglected, even though most of them are bigger energy hogs than a fleet of SUVs!

Need to be proactive
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development, which produced a landmark study on the topic, contends that buildings should put back into the system, atleast, as much energy as they consume.

The consultancy McKinsey & Company notes that a number of key energy efficiency technologies for buildings offer payback periods of less than a year and could have a dramatic impact on greenhouse-gas emissions.

But governments must act. Building codes already guard against dangers like fire and earthquakes. Proactive governments in places like Germany and Singapore are now mandating green buildings. California’s latest building and appliance standards are expected to avoid the need for five power plants in the next 10 years.

Act now to reap benefits
Buildings last for decades, so decisions made today will have an impact on our energy consumption.

Efficient buildings enable countries to produce and consume less energy.

China and India are alone constructing more than half of all the world’s new floor space.
Without well-designed policy measures, improvements in the energy efficiency of buildings will continue at a relatively slow pace in Asia.  But, before change at the policy level is brought in,  here are a few myths need to be debunked:

*Green buildings cost a lot more to build. Initially, there may be higher costs involved, but, this figure tends to fall as everyone from architects to construction workers adapt themselves to new techniques.

*Energy-efficient buildings are uncomfortable.

Myths such as living in eco-friendly buildings means sitting in the dark, shivering in the winter and sweating in the summer need to be rectified.

Governments and builders need to strike an association to construct greener buildings and create an atmosphere for acceptance among people to embrace their product.

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