Since there are no currently active contests, we have switched Climate CoLab to read-only mode.
Learn more at
Skip navigation
Share via:


Using renewable energy sources, carbon sink material and techniques to ensure carbon footprint free buildings.



Improving or extending the functionality and complexity of building to provide more comforts, buildings are now the largest single contributor to global CO2 emissions. When all aspects of buildings are considered, some estimate that over half of emissions are related to the building sector. This is due to a variety of factors. Buildings use 35% of energy in the world and are directly responsible for 35% of global emissions. Two-thirds of global electricity production is for building operations. When including construction and maintenance, it becomes clear that 50–60% of global resources are consumed by buildings while also causing more than 50% of global waste production


  • Reducing the CO2 production of the building sector along with other negative impacts is a challenge that must be met quickly and decisively.
  • The solution to the problem require a lot of attention and work there are many aspects that are to be considered while reducing the carbon footprints being generated from buildings.
  • In this we aim at zero carbon buildings development and refurbishment.
  • For this a hierarchy of steps must be followed to solve the problem.
  • These steps involve:
  1. Changing Building material
  2. Better insulation technique
  3. Using renewable sources of energy
  4. Saving energy
  5. Using better lightning options

Is this proposal for a practice or a project?


What actions do you propose?

The idea of zero carbon building development can only be made possible by integration of various methods and techniques. All the technique should corelate with each other to bear the best results.

The hierarchy of methods can be adopted are:

  • Selecting Material

 Every component of a building has an associated energy use and CO2 emission inherent in its extraction, production, and transport. This “grey energy” and the resulting “grey emissions” of materials are usually overlooked, and even when it is addressed, the data is not usually readily available. This aspect of building materials must be considered in every design if we are going to address the full effect of buildings on CO2 emissions and pollution. As mentioned, the grey energy and emissions must be considered, and the production of building materials requires the use of more high value energy and resources as compared to building operations. There are also environmental problems with the by-products of material used in buildings.

We should prefer using carbon sink and low carbon building material these materials reduce the carbon content of the building through a great range. Some of the material are:

  1. Low-carbon bricks. These have been rolled out for mass production and implementation since 2009. The use of 40% fly ash (Ritch, 2009) helps to reduce embodied carbon found in conventional bricks. Fly ash is a fine glass powder that consists primarily of silica, iron and alumina
  2. Green concrete. The raw materials to form conventional concrete can be substituted with by-products of industrial processes and recycled materials.
  3. Green tiles. These are ceramic material made from over 55% recycled glass and other minerals. The products turn waste glass into tiles for use in building’s internal and external flooring and cladding
  4. Recycled metals. The production process of metal products is highly carbon intensive. However, the life cycle performance of metal products can significantly reduce their production energy consumption.
  • Continuous insulation technique

 Continuous insulation can be described as insulation that is continuous across all structural members without thermal bridges other than fasteners and service openings. It is installed on the interior, exterior or is integral to any opaque surface of the building. Continuous insulation saves energy and reduces the carbon footprint. It provides thermal, air, water and vapor control layers in one system and simplifies the construction process. This trend in building development and is widely used for its environmental benefits.

  • Use of Renewable sources of energy

Using renewable sources of energy can be very fruitful for reding the GHG emission from building. The energy sources can be used to power the house and for even insulation purposes. Some commonly used renewable energy sources with their uses are:

  1. Solar Energy:

It is the most abundant source of energy this energy source can be used for a variety of purposes. Solar energy can be converted into electrical energy and van be used in a variety of forms.

  1. Wind Energy:

Wind generators are used to convert wind energy into electrical energy which can be used in many ways.

  1. Biomass:

Biomass is organic material that comes from plants and animals, and it is a renewable source of energy. Biomass contains stored energy from the sun. Plants absorb the sun's energy in a process called photosynthesis.

  • Energy saving and Reduced wastage

In this concentrate on one of the principle R of the 3-R’s i.e. reduce. We should try to reduce the consumption of energy in every possible way so as to save energy. This ensure lower consumption costs and also contribute towards lowering the carbon emission from the building. Moreover, we should strive for lowering the wastage generated by recycling it in every possible manner.

  • Lightning options

It is suggested that lighting energy use can be reduce by 75–90% compared to conventional practice through combing daylighting, energy efficient lighting and control. To optimize the use of lightning energy we can use the following sources:

  • Low energy lighting
  • Passive lighting sources
  • Electrochomistic materials

Who will take these actions?

The goal to move toward zero carbon building development can only be achieved by the joint effort of the government and some NGO’s. Both organization are to work together to achieve the goal.

  • Government Objectives
  1. It should formulate some criteria by which the carbon footprint associated with the building should be measured.
  2. It should specify the maximum limit up to which the carbon emission is acceptable and beyond that some action must be taken.
  3. It should make sure that the materials are readily available.
  4. Carbon sink material should be given some exemption in taxes so that it attracts the public because of its cheaper rates.
  5. Building using excessive light energy should be laid by some extra fines.
  6. Use of renewable sources of energy should be promoted.


  • NGO’s Objective
  1. It should try to make the people aware of the ill effects of the carbon emission from buildings.
  2. It should conduct workshops showing how carbon footprints are being generated by the builds and how they harm us.
  3. They should tell people the other benefits of using low sink material.
  4. They should discuss various ideas with people stating that how they can prevent the wastage of energy.
  5. They can educate people about the advantages of using renewable energy sources.

So, these were some of the ways by which the above objective can be achieved.

Where will these actions be taken?

The practice can be conducted both in developing as well as developed nations, but it is to be noted that the actions will have higher impacts in developing nations as they can use the alternative in field of energy, material and other carbon sink techniques in a more organised way. The developed nations should ensure that the use of carbon sink techniques should be made mandatory in every building technique.


In addition, specify the country or countries where these actions will be taken.


Country 2


Country 3


Country 4

No country selected

Country 5

No country selected


What impact will these actions have on greenhouse gas emissions and/or adapting to climate change?

The goal of our solutions for the field of building design and construction is to reduce the subsequent anthropogenic CO2 emissions to zero. These are a result of direct emissions in construction, indirect emissions from material usage and from energy use during operation. Any direct emission from combustion in buildings generates a large destruction of exergy and should be avoided.

Material usage in buildings must include consideration for the grey emissions of the material. Life cycle analysis (LCA) and end of life (EOL) planning must become a standard part of material selection if we are to successfully reduce the indirect impacts of material consumption for buildings, especially considering that buildings currently generate over half of global waste. This change in consideration for materials can have a significant impact on CO2 emission reduction that would otherwise be overlooked.

 We have presented a variety of aspects of this challenge along with potential solutions. To be successful, we must consider analysis methods that account better for the way energy and materials are used in buildings. High value energy sources can be more effectively utilized by applying concepts of energy analysis to match the supply quality with the quality demanded by the building systems. Finally, we must use all the above requirements to generate more streamlined processes that lead to zero emission buildings.

What are other key benefits?


What are the proposal’s projected costs?


About the author(s)

Related Proposals