Paper Session 2 :

Climate Change - Building Energy and Environmental Response

A growing number of international leaders now warn that climate change is, in the words of U.K. Chief Scientific Advisor David King, "the most severe problem that we are facing today—more serious even than the threat of terrorism". Global warming is one of climate changes which influences the human and nature significantly. Global average temperatures have stayed fairly constant until recently by burning fossil fuels and greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions. Humans have increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by more than a third since the industrial revolution. The average global temperatures have increased by 0.74 °C in the last 100 years. Global temperatures are set to rise by 1.1 °C in a low-emissions scenario, and by 2.4 °C in a high-emission in this century. This causes sea level rising and more extreme weather, these changes are considered as “force majeure”.

The biggest contributor to GHG emissions is built environment. In U.S., buildings account for 39% of CO2 emissions and consume 70% of the electricity load. The construction industry accounts for 40 percent of global energy and product demand, as well as one third of global GHG emissions. Thus, reducing energy consumption from construction industry is urgent. Moreover, tall buildings usually require more energy and resources compared low- rise buildings. Making tall buildings more sustainable is necessary to be discussed and researched. Research related to building energy consumption is of vital importance.

Building energy is divided into two main parts: Embodied energy and operational energy. Embodied energy is the energy consumed by all of the processes associated with the production of a building, from the mining and processing of natural resources to manufacturing, transport, product delivery, construction, maintenance, replacement, and demolition throughout the whole life cycle. Operational energy is the energy required during the entire service life of a structure such as lighting, heating, cooling, and ventilating systems; and operating building appliances. It is required to consider embodied energy and operational energy comprehensively and holistically to decrease the whole building energy and its environmental impacts.

This panel discusses the opportunities and challenges associated with reducing the energy consumption of buildings by questioning the current methods and research techniques. How can we create a more sustainable urban environment? How do buildings react toward environmental changes in term of their energy consumption? How do we asses the potential of a built structure to be more sustainable?

Text by : Lijian Ma