Carbon Neutrality in Construction: How Does It Work?


Carbon Neutrality in Construction: How Does It Work?

In Brazil, it is estimated that the construction sector accounts for one-third of the country’s total emissions. According to the 2022 Global Status Report on Buildings and Construction, the sector was responsible for about 37% of CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) emissions related to energy and processes in 2021. To understand the global impact of the sector, in Europe alone, the construction industry represents 40% of the continent’s total energy needs, with about 80% coming from fossil fuels. For this reason, the actions of the construction chain will be decisive in achieving environmental goals.

One of the most critical points in this negative impact is undoubtedly the origin of the components. The main materials used in construction are significant contributors to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the atmosphere. Cement, for example, a widely used material, generates almost 20% of the industry’s total emissions. Not to mention steel, responsible for over 30% of carbon emissions in the Brazilian industrial sector. But the construction process, especially the more traditional methods, also contributes significantly by altering the soil, generating a vast amount of waste, requiring material transportation to the site, and using pollution-emitting equipment. The operational phase of buildings concludes as the grand finale of environmental damage, as electricity production is a significant cause of greenhouse gas emissions, and the majority of buildings still do not use energy efficiently.

The question then arises: how to call this sector to change? Greenhouse gas emission inventories are the first step in accurately calculating the volume of carbon produced at each stage of construction. From this study, a series of mitigating measures can be defined to reduce impacts and offset emissions. While it may not be possible to create strategies at the conceptual stage of new projects, such as specifying materials with lower environmental impact throughout their life cycle and reusing or recycling waste on-site, it is essential to adopt emission reduction measures to minimize the environmental impact.

Prioritizing suppliers located near the construction site, using industrialized construction systems, seeking environmental certifications that attest to building efficiency, and implementing mechanisms for emissions offsetting, such as using renewable energy sources or carbon sequestration through native vegetation planting, are highly welcomed actions.

Note that there are various ways to achieve this offsetting, such as purchasing carbon credits or investing in emissions reduction projects, and never forget to monitor and evaluate the results for the continuous improvement of these processes.

Count on Canopée to make your construction project nature-friendly!