When it comes to sustainability, the focus is nearly always on the end user. Whether that be educating them on how to use less water, installing a water-efficient toilet, like Charlottesville new construction. 

In almost no instance do you ever hear about the environmental impact of a building’s design? However, this is because buildings can represent as much as 50% of a city’s carbon footprint. The impact of a building on the environment involves many different factors, so we will dive into them here.

Materials and Construction

The materials used in a building and the way they are constructed will have an environmental impact. A concrete or steel structure, for example, has a much higher carbon footprint than a wooden structure. Similarly, a concrete or asphalt roof will generate a lot of stormwater runoff as well as pollutants that may pollute the water. Building materials will have a significant impact on the environment, either through their extraction, processing, manufacturing or disposal.

Global Warming Potential of CO2

When a building is operational, it will emit CO2 as a byproduct of powering the building and being occupied.

The amount of CO2 emitted by a building is determined by its energy usage.

CO2 is the most prevalent greenhouse gas, and it is also the one that poses the greatest environmental threat. Because CO2 is a gas, it doesn’t stay in one place but rather disperses into the atmosphere. From there, it traps heat that would otherwise be reflected back into space. This is called the greenhouse effect.

While CO2 is necessary for life, too much of it can have devastating effects on the environment. This is particularly true for the planet’s oceans.

Air Quality and Smog

The air quality in and around a building is directly related to emissions. While CO2 is the most significant emission, other pollutants have a significant impact on air quality.

These pollutants, when mixed with water vapor in the air, create smog. Smog is a type of air pollution that consists of a combination of fog and smoke. Commonly associated with industrial areas, it can also occur as a result of burning fossil fuels, biomass, and other organic materials.

There are two main types of smog, tropospheric and ozone. Tropospheric smog is the more common of the two, and is created when nitrogen and oxygen react with certain pollutants.