How Decarbonisation Of Built Urban Environments Can Reduce & Control Rise In Global Temperatures
How Decarbonisation Of Built Urban Environments Can Reduce & Control Rise In Global Temperature
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A mix of creativity, innovation and technology is necessary to develop new-age buildings that can control and limit global warming.
The last few months of a brutal summer were a prelude to what is to come if global climate continues to degenerate. The US has been experiencing a severe heat wave and a megacity like Mumbai is also bearing the brunt of the climate crisis. Major parts of Mumbai have experienced a temperature rise of 2 degree Celsius between 1991 and 2018 and just between 2006 and 2018, the sea level has risen by 3.7 mm due to rising temperatures—over the years this will cause parts of Mumbai to drown. Climate change migration has also become a reality and shifting seasons have severely affected global farming practices.
But the good news is, we can still reduce and limit some of the damage caused by global warming. A report by the Energy Transitions Commission says that Carbon Dioxide Removals (CDR), alongside rapid and deep global decarbonisation, can increase our chances of limiting global warming by 1.5 degree Celsius, i.e., by 50 percent.
While all sectors need to pitch in the mission, the real estate industry must lead the movement by implementing the right measures and practices to decarbonise the built environment, as buildings account for approximately 40 percent of total global energy use and emissions.
There are a couple of big and small measures that can go a long way in saving the planet. What the real estate industry needs is innovation, creativity, technology and the willingness to do right by its communities.
New building regulations
Large cities amount for 75 percent of global emissions and have already started facing dire consequences. New building regulations can be a starting point in ensuring ecologically responsible construction.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) v4.1 is the latest standard for green building design, construction, operations and performance. Nucleus Office Parks, which operates India’s biggest office portfolio, has certifications for existing buildings as per the v4.1 standard. This goes a long way in ensuring that the property is not just a great place to work but is also doing right by the planet.
The much-talked about, 10,000-sq-ft garden with a community space, sitting arena, play and public areas, amidst lush greenery beneath the flyover in Lower Parel is part of the One Green Mile Project, developed by Nucleus Office Parks. This pioneering development was one of the first public-private-partnership (PPP) projects and envisaged reimagining urban development of a one-mile stretch on one of the busiest streets of Mumbai’s central business district.
A push for cycling and electric cart tracks
In large residential and corporate properties, users often use their cars to drive from one end of the property to another. A built plan that encourages residents or office goers to move around the space on foot, in cycles or e-carts could further help in controlling carbon emissions from the space. Building cycling, walking and e-cart tracks to make this possible is a great idea in this direction.
Nucleus Office Parks built 3 kms of walking and cycling tracks at One Green Mile, making it an equal street for all. The idea was to create infrastructure that is pedestrian friendly and makes walking and cycling a joy even in the middle of fast-paced Mumbai.
Innovative building material
According to the ‘2020 Building The Future Report’ by PwC Global, by 2025, there will be 37 megacities in the world, up from 23 today. Given that concrete production alone makes up 8 percent of global emissions, building design and construction practices must change radically to reduce carbon emissions.
The use of digital twins, which is a digital representation of a physical environment that collects real time data, has proven to be greatly beneficial in regulating and rectifying energy usage in buildings, and as per estimations can help to exceed designed energy usage by 3.8 times.
Nucleus Office Parks has achieved 87000 tons of carbon reduction across their properties. 60 percent of the Nucleus portfolio is powered through renewable energy.
Incentivising green structures and buildings through construction loans or mortgage finance are great ways to incentivise developers to build environment-friendly structures. In a recent development, the Climate Bonds Institute issued Green Loan certificates to the company. The Indian GSS debt market is gathering momentum, and issuances like this prove the country's commitment to a sustainable future.