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Global Building Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The built environment has been reported at attributing 48 % of all energy consumption in the US with around 75 % of all the electricity produced in the US and 20-40 % of the total energy consumption in Europe and other advanced countries

(Architecture 2030, 2011). Buildings also contribute indirectly to greenhouse gas emissions. The built environment is responsible about half of the greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. and 30-40 % of the total carbon emissions in the UK. Construction sector in India emits about 22 % of the total annual emission of CO2 resulting from the Indian economy (Dakwale and Ralegaonkar 2012). Production of construction materials is primarily dependent on conventional energy sources in many parts of the world. Out of the emissions from the construction sector, around 80 % are resulting mainly from the products/industrial processes of energy intensive building materials (i.e., cement, lime, steel, bricks, and aluminum.) (Reddy and Jagadish 2003).

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has documented that fossil fuels supply 84 % of total U.S. and 76 % of building sector energy consumption (Architecture 2030, 2011). It is expected to grow by 9.8 % between 2010 and 2030. Building Sector is responsible about 34 % of this growth. The production of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses that are now fueling dangerous climate change is mainly a result of burning fossil fuels to generate energy.

In 2012, the Building Sector was responsible for nearly half (44.7 %) of US CO2 emissions (Architecture 2030, 2011). By comparison, transportation accounted for 34.3 % of CO2 emissions and industry just 21.1 %. This makes buildings as the largest Contributor to Climate Change. Many people are surprised to learn this fact as so much attention is given to transportation emissions. Since most of this energy is produced from burning fossil fuels, this makes the building sector the largest emitter of greenhouse gases on earth and the single leading contributor to anthropogenic (human forcing) climate change. By the year 2035, approx. 75 % of the built environment will be either new or renovated. This transformation over the years represents a historic opportunity for the architecture and building community to avoid dangerous climate change.

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