The building and construction sector is arguably one of the most energy-hungry sectors in the world; by 2015, the sector was estimated to consume about 32% of all energy used in the world. Consequently, it was responsible for about 19% of all emissions of greenhouse gases globally at the time. In the United States, for instance, the real-estate and construction sector alone was responsible for about 40% of all national energy consumption and about 35% of all greenhouse gas emissions (Berardi, 2015). Greenhouse gases affect the global climate and, therefore, the biosphere in an adverse way.
These gases increase the global temperatures, melt the Polar Ice, and contribute to the rising of sea levels, and so forth. Nonetheless, greenhouse gases can be reduced and their effects alleviated and the building and construction sector can be a major contributor to this objective.
In fact, it is possible now with today’s technology to achieve 50% to 90% energy savings in this sector (Chalmers, 2014). By opting for green buildings rather than conventional buildings, the contribution of the real estate and construction sector to greenhouse gas emissions can be greatly reduced.
Green buildings are healthy, environmentally friendly facilities designed and constructed in a way that is resource efficient (Kibert, 2008). That said, this definition of green buildings lays too much emphasis on the environmental effect of the building and too little on how the buildings affect those who inhabit and interact with them. Green buildings in their truest sense offer optimal utility to their inhabitants, use minimal natural resources, while at the same time affecting the environment and by extension the biosphere as less as possible.
This paper examines the evolution of green buildings and the emerging trends in the sector.
Green buildings have already been adopted extensively across the world and their adoption is only expected to grow in future. Globally, the real-estate and the construction industry are to blame for the consumption of a vast amount of energy, water, and other resources. Nonetheless, this sector also has the greatest capacity to deliver considerable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions at a minimal or zero cost. Buildings in the whole world contribute about 9 billion tons of carbon dioxide every year. Consequently, if green buildings do not become the norm in this period of rapid population and economic growth, greenhouse gas emissions could more than double by 2050. It is worth noting that, merely building a certain fraction of green buildings will not significantly reduce the impact that buildings have on the environment or the biosphere; green buildings must be the standard practice going forward if real progress in protecting the biosphere is to be made. All buildings should move towards real sustainability. For that reason, future green buildings will likely aim not only to reduce the environmental impacts of buildings and improve energy efficiency but also to ensure that building improves user experience, and so forth.