Currently, GHG emissions from buildings represent approximately 44% of the total emissions in the U.S. (Architecture 2030, 2013b). Buildings are "in the grip of a dangerous greenhouse gas (GHG) habit " (Kirby, 2008, p. 6). Some researchers claim that if approximately two-thirds of the new and renovated stock in the U.S. will be built between now and 2050 (Ewing, Bartholomew, Winkelman, Walters, & Chen, 2007), there is a significant potential for the building sector to reduce its emissions.
This thesis studies the main GHGs, their global warming potential (GWP) and the sources of emissions within buildings. In general, when thinking about GHG emissions reductions in buildings, the attention goes to reducing operations energy usage, since electricity from the combustion of fossil fuels is the most responsible for CO2 emissions within buildings. But in fact, there are other GHG that can be reduced and whose GWP is higher than CO 2. Carbon neutral buildings reduce emissions in a holistic way, considering other sources of emissions rather than just operation (La Roche, 2012).
Building codes and regulations do not seem to give enough attention to GHG emissions reductions. Neither are some voluntary rating systems, such as LEED. LEED has been adopted as a benchmark for many Federal Agencies and institutions; usually the minimum requirement is to become LEED Silver certified, which is proven that is not enough for carbon neutrality (The American Institute of Architects, 2012b).
Finally, a framework has been developed to guide architects, builders and developers on how to design, build and operate a zero emissions building, thus minimizing the purchase of carbon offsets.
|Advisor:||Fryer, Rob, La Roche, Pablo|
|Commitee:||Diemer, Rob, Fleming, Rob, Kaplan, Shannon, White, Chad|
|Department:||Architecture and the Built Environment|
|School Location:||United States -- Pennsylvania|
|Source:||MAI 55/03M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Architectural, Architecture, Environmental engineering|
|Keywords:||Building sector, Carbon neutrality, Carbon offsets, Global warming potential, Greenhouse gas emissions, Leed|
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