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What Is Low-Carbon Development for Design and Construction? – Redshift

What is low-carbon development for the architecture, engineering, and construction industry? Learn about the tools, materials, and benefits of sustainable building for future generations.

Low-carbon development is a holistic vision and process, focusing on improving the environment and often adopting decarbonization, resilience, circularity, and equity.
Low-carbon development is a holistic vision and process, focusing on improving the environment and often adopting decarbonization, resilience, circularity, and equity.

by Michael Gustafson

Low-carbon development is a holistic approach to design and construction that comprises evolving, energy-efficient, and environmentally friendly practices used to build a better future. Broadly defined, it’s development “that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” according to the Bruntland Commission (PDF, p. 16), a mid-1980s global conference that first defined core concepts for the renewable vision now embraced in principle by industry leaders worldwide.

As technology evolves and climate change reinforces the urgency of sustainable solutions, low-carbon development isn’t just the future, it’s the present. There’s simply no way to achieve overall sustainability in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry without radically changing the way projects are designed and built. Buildings account for 38% (PDF, p. 10) of annual carbon emissions worldwide—28% from operational emissions via heating, cooling, and power and 10% from materials and construction. Reducing those numbers will be more challenging due to an expected wave of urbanization.

Why Is Low-Carbon Development Important?

The built square footage taking place between now and 2060 is expected to double, amounting to the equivalent of adding one New York City every month for the next four decades. Decarbonization of new and existing buildings should be an immediate call to action. With that in mind, two of the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 focus on the built environment: building resilient infrastructure and creating sustainable cities and communities.

To move forward means confronting a series of interlocking challenges. The built environment has to evolve in lockstep with the electric grid—while phasing out fossil-fuel infrastructure and kick-starting electric-transportation options. These transformations have been hindered by poor coordination and old-school thinking, but the technology and creativity needed to succeed exist.

These shifts present a massive opportunity for those willing to adopt a different approach. Low-carbon development could also be a smart money move: The International Finance Corporation believes green buildings will be worth $24.7 trillion by 2030.

Solar-panel installations are just one part of the low-carbon development equation.
Solar-panel installations are just one part of the low-carbon development equation.

Elements of a Low-Carbon Development Strategy

Low-carbon development is a holistic vision and process, focusing on improving the environment and often adopting decarbonization, resilience, circularity, and equity. Done right, it requires coordination across architecture, engineering, and construction, with all teams sharing digital assets from the outset to eliminate waste from their own work and the finished product.

The initial picture of this process may not be data-rich, maybe even just a low-resolution image. But it’s important to have a vision, however grainy, as more aspects come into focus. The shared vision and digital tools for any project need to consider every stage of a building’s life, including embodied energy and the end-of-life impacts of the project. With this information, teams can commit to a comprehensive blueprint with the right sustainable materials and construction practices.

Read on >>>> Source: Redshift What Is Low-Carbon Development for Design and Construction?

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