Earth is home to plants, animals, and human beings. All living beings require shelter to live. A bird makes a nest, a lion lives in a den, a bee makes a beehive, and humans make buildings. Buildings have a significant impact on the environment. Its impacts are mostly subjective and depend upon the way a building is brought into the origin. We all know that the construction industry constitutes a degradation of the environment and natural surroundings in many ways, which includes, climate change, energy consumptions, noise, air, and water pollution. In the global picture, buildings account for 35% of total resources, about 40% of energy usage, 12% of the world’s drinkable water, and produce 40% of total carbon dioxide gas emissions. Here we are discussing 10 ways a project can harm the environment.
1. Climate Change
The built environment constitutes climate change. Urban heat island is an effect caused due to urbanization and lack of green areas within an urban setup. It leads to higher temperature levels. Sustainable practices and green buildings are designed to reduce the impact on climate.
2. Carbon Emission
Carbon emission leads to global warming. The carbon footprint of a project can be reduced by energy evaluation and analysis of the building. Using greener sources of energy and appliances. Reducing activities that lead to carbon emissions such as artificial heating, cooling, and lighting should be reduced.
3. Energy Consumption
A structure not designed following the sun-path fails to harness maximum solar energy as required. Poor planning or design can also lead to the catching of unnecessary heat or coldness into the interiors, creating demand for an external source of energy like air conditioners, heaters, etc. Energy consumption in buildings can be reduced by ideal planning, using natural sources of energy and ventilation, installing energy-efficient appliances, etc.
4. Noise Pollution
Noise pollution can be both during construction and after the construction. Construction activities involve heavy machines and equipment, which cause noise pollution during handling. Poor urban planning also leads to noise disintegration in public places as wells as residential areas.
5. Material and Resources
Building materials can harm the environment. The materials used in exteriors and also the interiors contribute to the temperature of the build space. The practice of vernacular techniques and materials should be promoted. They not only reduce embodied energy and transportation cost but also help in cutting down carbon emissions.
6. Fossil Fuels
Energy is mostly generated through fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are limited and non-renewable. Fossil fuels generate greenhouse gasses that are harmful to the environment. Reliability on fossil fuels should be reduced and more renewable sources of energy should be explored.
7. Soil Quality
Many projects require the need to fell trees and existing landscape on the site. Trees prevent soil erosion. They maintain the soil quality of the land. Construction activities often lead to soil contamination. Usage of chemicals degrades the rich soil, thus harming the environment in multiple ways. Paving surface reduces water percolation into the ground resulting in reduced water levels.
8. Existing Flora & Fauna
Whenever a man-made edifice tries to disturb an existing habitat, it impacts the flora and fauna of that site. Construction activities may not only disturb the flora and fauna, but it may also lead to the depletion of various species. The ecosystem is greatly affected by buildings.
9. Water Quality
Construction of buildings and urban areas also leads to a decline in water quality and aquatic life. Building construction constitutes 25% of total water usage globally, of which 12% is drinkable. Chemicals used in construction can make water hard and also affect the groundwater levels and quality.
10. Waste Emission
Management of waste is an essential aspect of building construction. Construction and renovation activities emit a significant volume of waste which should be managed efficiently. The waste can be recycled and reused to reduce its harmful effect on the environment.
Buildings not only affect the environment adversely but also the site, the community, and the economy. The buildings must respond to social and environmental context to a feasible extent.
Although buildings also create a microclimate within themselves, on a larger scale man-made structures often degrade the environment causing harm to animals, plants, humans, and thus the planet Earth. A well-planned project shall give equal consideration to its impact on the environment. Architecture practices must change and evolve concerning the surroundings and the impact it creates.