Building Construction in Global Climate Mitigation

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This presents the building sector with the challenge of reducing GHG emissions, while maintaining, if not enhancing, the quality of services to building occupants. The major causes of these large contributions are the extensive use of fossil fuel-based energy in buildings for thermal comfort, lighting, water heating, electrical equipment and appliances, as well as in the production of construction materials. Buildings are responsible for about one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions, making buildings the single largest contributor to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Mitigating climate change in the building sector also means providing opportunities for a green economy and more green jobs. Construction in the world
Adoption of net zero energy building and energy-plus buildings, Picture Source: ERM-Siam Co., Ltd.


The  sources of emission in the buildings sector are from electricity use (8.6 GtCO2) and halocarbons (including in refrigerant: CFCs and HCFCs approximately 1.5 GtCO2-eq). The IPCC estimation in 2004 indicated that energy-related CO2 emissions of the building sector are approximately 3 Gt per year  (IPCC, 2007c).

The building sector offers the low-cost mitigation potential in all regions by 2030 which ranges from 0 to 2.6 US$ per GtonCO2e in developing country (IPCC, 2008). Mitigation measures include integrated design principals in building, efficiency renovation, and adoption of net zero energy building and energy-plus buildings.

The systematic integration of

  1. Hardware i.e. designs strategies, technologies and practices
  2. Software including practices, experiences and know-how) and
  3. Orgware (feasibility for implementation and for the diffusion of new technologies, including setting up supporting policies and capacity building to train work forces) then forms a foundation to nurture the hardware, which refers to sustainable lifestyles and behaviors of the building occupants, through educational programs, public campaigns to raise awareness and so on.

Such a systematic approach will put the building sector in a better position to achieve its mitigation potential, and improve the living and working environment for their occupants, especially in developing countries. The systematic approach and objectives, the mitigation typologies in the building sector can be defined with operational clarity. This is particularly useful in developing countries, where a Technology Needs Assessment (TNA) can be carried out to identify the most effective mitigation typologies in terms of socio-economic, contextual and temporal appropriateness.

In detail, the framework consists of eight broad mitigation typologies as follows:

  1. Passive solar design
  2. Advanced passive solar design
  3. Technologies that enhance passive solar design performance
  4. Active design
  5. Low carbon and carbon sequestration
  6. Onsite renewable energy generation
  7. Monitoring and occupants’s feedback loop
  8. Beyond individual buildings.

The mitigation technologies and practices in the eight typologies, depending on their individual nature, can be deployed and implemented in newly-constructed buildings and retrofitting existing buildings. It is noted that the mitigation typology of passive solar design is applicable to newly-constructed buildings, and should be considered at an early design stage. The design strategies are the basic principles to deliver thermal comfort among other good building environment performances to the buildings’s occupants in an energy efficient manner. They do not require any mechanical equipment to run, and thus are most feasible to implement, and usually do not require additional costs. Therefore, the passive solar design mitigation typology should be considered as a prerequisite for all newly-constructed buildings. Table xx.1 provides an overview of the technologies and practices of each of the mitigation typologies.

Table xx.1 Typologies of mitigation technologies and practices

No. Mitigation typologies Technologies and practices
Prerequisite Passive solar design Site selection
Design responsive to the sun
Design responsive to wind
Use of thermal mass materials
1 Advanced passive solar design Renovation and innovative use of traditional building materials and techniques
Passive house design and technologies
2 Technologies that enhance passive solar design performance Life cycle and integrated design process
Building envelope thermal insulation
High performance building façade systems
Daylight harnessing technologies
3 Active design Highly efficiency heating, ventilation and air conditioning system
Efficiency lighting systems
Water efficiency technologies
4 Low carbon and carbon sequestration Carbon-sequestration and low-carbon building materials and products
Greening and building integrated greenery systems
5 Onsite renewable energy generation Solar technologies
Building integrated wind turbines
6 Monitoring and occupants’s feedback loop Energy management and performance improvement
Behavior change catalysts
7 Beyond individual building Community based energy services
Sustainable community design and practices

Source: TNA Guidebook Series, Technologies for Climate Chang Mitigation, -Building Sector-, UNEP, 2012


  • TNA Guidebook Series, Technologies for Climate Chang Mitigation, -Building Sector-, UNEP, 2012
  • IPCC. 2007c. Residential and commercial1 buildings.
  • IPCC. 2008. Climate change mitigation in the buildings sector: the findings of the 4th Assessment Report of the IPCC.

Categories: Mitigation,Mitigation Application


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