Erasing the carbon footprint produced by greenhouse gases is the environmental purpose of big cities and one of the most important criteria that architects should consider when designing future works.
Reducing carbon emissions has become a crusade that many have against global warming. In fact, climate change has become a legitimate concern for the future of our planet and the life of the next generations. Therefore, it’s no longer a simple subject of study in schools and it has become a route to follow, mainly in major populated areas.
Architecture takes a leading role in this issue. The construction of increasingly effective buildings in terms of their energy consumption, the use of suitable materials that are friendly to the environment, designing based on the use of natural resources, the renovation of old structures and lighting systems are some of the actions that can be implemented in this industry to help the war against greenhouse gases.
Getting to know the enemy
The gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect are all those derived from human and industrial activity and carbon dioxide is at the top of the list. This gas comes from any combustion process, out of which the most toxic one is the use of fossil fuels. This is why industrial and urban activity are the main source of these emissions.
Greenhouse gases retain the short-wave energy received by the sun within the atmosphere of the Earth, causing the temperature of the surface to rise. This is the main cause of global warming and thus of climate change that generates a global alteration of the ecosystems. It’s worth mentioning that global warming is a natural process, but the high concentration of greenhouse gases is accelerating dramatically.
Despite the controversial aspect of the issue, the main large corporations and authorities of the mainly populated areas agree on the impending need to act. Reducing the emissions of these gases would have a positive effect on this whole chain, delaying the degenerative process of the planet.
The carbon footprint is the impact that an individual, organization or construction has on the environment in terms of its emission of greenhouse gases. So, the ecological activity is aimed at reducing it.
Measuring the impact
There are several international standards to measure the carbon footprint produced by an organization, activity, product or service. In the case of an organization, the measurements are annual and related to the GH Protocol and ISO 14064-1 standards. In terms of products or services, the life cycle analysis of the product is used based on the PAS 2050:2011 or ISO/TS 14067:2013 standards.
In this sense, technology has been put at the service of communities to determine their impact on the environment. Recently, the technology giant Google, launched the app Environmental Insights Explorer in test mode, conceived to measure the emission of carbon footprints of the cities thanks to the use of the data captured by Google Maps.
Traffic volume, population density, the consumption of electric energy or any type of energy in populated areas and the rest of human and industrial activities of the cities result in an emission of greenhouse gases that, in an experimental way, is quite difficult and costly to determine. Achieving these data remotely and in real time is the purpose of this application that was developed in partnership with the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy (GCOM) and will be implemented as a pilot program in the cities of Buenos Aires, Melbourne, Victoria, Pittsburgh and Mountain View.
The most important architectural studios have not been indifferent. Modern works answer to a variety of criteria that aim at minimal ecological impact.
An example of this are the passivehouse within modern urbanism: The use of ecological and recyclable materials in both the structure and the coatings, implementing diverse techniques to reduce energy consumption and landscaping as a way to provide oxygen sources. There are many measures that are being implemented globally at the architectural level to erase or at least mitigate the uncomfortable footprint that man is leaving on the planet.