Living in zero-carbon cities might seem like an unrealistic goal, but if construction professionals across the world can band together and work with lawmakers to draft new building codes that help usher the construction industry toward more sustainable building practices, the future of the construction industry may be brighter than most people realize.
In part one of this two-part series, a Charlotte contractor attorney from Cotney Construction Law discussed why it is important for cities to strive for reduced greenhouse gas. In part two, we will take a comprehensive look at how building codes can help achieve this goal.
Cutting Emissions and Saving Energy
Building codes are designed to ensure the health and safety of people and property residing inside the building whether temporarily or permanently. They hold builders accountable for the quality of their workmanship. Thanks to building codes, people rarely have to worry about a building collapsing on top of them or a faulty electrical outlet causing a fire.
From the beginning, building codes have evolved and expanded to account for an increasingly large number of factors. Everything from the type of materials used in construction to the energy efficiency of the building itself can be established in building codes. In fact, the most current building codes related to energy in the world can cut energy consumption by as much as 70 percent compared to similar buildings that don’t follow updated building codes.
The benefits don’t end there; it is estimated that in the United States alone, reduced energy could save an estimated $126 billion from 2010 to 2040. Plus, green construction can drive the economy of cities that have yet to invest in sustainable construction. In the United States, low-carbon buildings employed 3.9 million people from 2015 to 2018.
The Next Steps
A consistent set of building codes can go a long way to helping countries achieve zero-carbon cities. In order to implement these changes as effectively as possible, global powers must focus on the following principles first:
- Prioritize established markets that can benefit from faster retrofit cycles and increased energy-efficiency requirements on existing buildings. Establish zero-carbon energy codes for all new construction while making the transition to a sustainable industry driven primarily by clean electricity.
- Develop and implement energy codes for middle-income markets starting with appliances, then increase the capabilities for code enforcement to support these new codes.
- Utilize benchmark energy and building codes in developing markets to avoid another half-century of energy derived from fossils fuels.
The world is growing, but building codes can help combat that growth by ensuring development aligns with our inherent responsibility to keep the planet healthy.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.