Monday, 8 October 2018
CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS AND ENVIRONMENT
Built Environment has massive impact on Natural Environment. Construction process and construction materials are major contributing factors. Construction materials interact with Embedded Energies Footprint resulting in Global Warming. The interaction between these three elements namely, construction materials, embedded energies footprint and global warming is a complex phenomenon and needs to be understood with clarity while arriving at a conclusion in assessing the exact nature of impact on natural environment. Currently the built environment is a huge consumer of depletable energy resources and is altering the planet’s environment in an irreversible way. Over the span of a building’s life the operational energy rather than the embodied energy of a building is the largest energy consumer.
Assessment of the impact of built environment on natural environment demands systematic analysis. Different types of Infrastructures like Residential and commercial buildings, transportation, roads, bridges, utilities, ports, and railways, private and public construction are essential due to urbanization and include every input and output of the life-cycle stages of the built environment namely; i) raw materials acquisition and processing, ii) manufacturing, iii) construction, iv) operation, v) maintenance, and vi) end-of-life option. However, the construction industry must not only comply with the ever-growing number of environmental legislations but go beyond compliance, proactively internalizing environmental performance in a way similar to that of other industries keeping Sustainable future as the goal.
Studies have shown that building construction with its four phases including Pre Construction, Construction, Operative, maintenance and Recycling phase is energy centric. With rapid urbanization and improved social status there is an increasing trend to consume more energy per capita. This is also reflected in modern construction trends and changing sky lines giving rise to new generation construction materials. Estimates show that about 80 percent of energy gets consumed during the operative and maintenance phase and remaining will get consumed in other phases like construction, demolition, heating, ventilation and Air conditioning phases.
In developing countries like India, infrastructural growth in general and construction industry in specific, demands considerable amount of energy. Recent survey shows industries alone consume about 45% of the total energy generated. Reduction of energy demand during construction phase is mainly due to embodied energy of construction materials. Due to extreme complexity involved in arriving at the exact quantification of energy consumed during the construction phase, reduction strategies are also complex. The entire process in the Life Cycle of a building gives rise to complex interaction phenomena between the Construction Materials, Embodied Energy footprint and Global warming.
To resolve this complexity there is a need to control and prudently use natural resources to shrink the carbon foot print. Meticulous planning of growth and proper understanding of interactions between the three attributes stated above play a vital role for societal sustainability.
Dr. Ajit Sabnis
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