Zero-Carbon Architecture- The Savior from Global Warming The term ‘global warming’ is perhaps among the most heard these days. From scientists to corporate head-honchos to the layman on the street, everyone is coming out with their own doomsday prophecy about the end of the world, these days. This naturally leads us to the question, whether there is something that can we can do in order to stop global warming? There is a solution and architects are expected to play a big role in it. The solution lies in the form of ‘Zero-Carbon Architecture’ or in simpler terms, ‘Green Architecture’.

Energy Guzzlers: Buildings consume about 40% of the world’s energy every year and generate almost half of the carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming. Approximately 76% of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the atmosphere are in the form of carbon dioxide. The rest are nitrous oxide, water vapor, methane and ozone. According to latest data about 35 million tons of carbon is being released into the atmosphere in recent times. China alone emits about 8 billion tons of carbon. It is time that we, the architect’s community do something about it.

The perfect solution lies in coming out design strategies that will enable harvesting of energy onsite, in combination with energy producing technologies like wind and solar, while also ensuring reducing the use of energy by the use of smart and efficient lighting and HVAC systems.

Change Approach: The focus should be on adopting a ‘cradle-to-cradle’ approach instead of the ‘cradle-to-grave’, one. In the case of the cradle-to-grave approach, you buy a product, use it and then throw it away , only to see the product finally finding its way into garbage and then to choking landfills. The cradle-to-cradle approach is ideal since with this approach , you use a product and once you don’t want it, you think about disassembling it and reusing the parts.

Sustainable architecture is already the buzzword in the construction industry. In a rapidly developing country like India , it has become imperative that we adopt latest technologies in order to save as much energy as possible. Wastage of energy is something that a country like India, which is in the midst of its biggest ever growth spree , should avoid, since it can have a direct impact on its GDP growth rate.

As architects, it becomes our bounden duty to spread awareness about the latest sustainable architectural solutions that are available among the general public. Practical demonstration of the economic feasibility of the use of energy efficient systems such as wind and solar energy is the need of the hour.

Ideal Scenario: A good example of the miracles of green architecture can be found in the form of the world’s first carbon-neutral zero waste city- ‘Masdar City’, on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi. Construction is on in full swing and the city is expected to take about seven more years to be completely built. The city is expected to cost about US$22 billion and will be home to about 1500 business and around 50,000 inhabitants. The entire city will be powered by renewable energy resources.

Masdar City is an example of the old adage, ‘where there is a will, there is a way’. It is time that other governments too borrowed a leaf from such initiatives and start promoting similar strategies in their country. As one of the fastest growing economies, India needs to take a leadership role in promoting green architecture and reducing global warming.