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Green Construction and Carbon Overload Essay

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Updated: Jul 29th, 2022

The materials we use to build new homes should be made from renewable resources and would represent no contribution to the carbon released into our atmosphere. These involve no sacrifice, which would not be widely accepted until too late, but only requires thought and planning. It is the middle and upper-income classes that will have to do it. As Maslow said (1943), there are levels of needs, and those people at the very bottom have no capacity to worry about anything beyond the bare necessities. Therefore, technological solutions are going to be necessary, because we cannot depend entirely upon behavioral change.

Image Courtesy Metafilter online

Housing requirements are equal to the demands of transportation and manufacturing and are at an already unsustainable level, according to Al Gore. (Go4re, AL 2006) Most homes cannot supply their own heat, light, or water. We can use candles, batteries, and portable electronics for a time, but not for long. Without our lifelines, our homes are dead, and they cannot sustain us.

It is possible that technology in home construction and a little behavioral change can result in zero carbon balance and save people almost as much energy as they consume. The technology to build a home that embodies zero carbon balance and which can be maintained using little power and contributing nothing to the carbon emissions is available now. Some technologies will cost more, while others will actually cost less. Savings in power will outweigh any higher costs of construction. One building style which would readily work with this technology is Habitat Montreal. With new glass technologies, these could even be better. (See APPENDIX A)

One is of particular interest. This site provides an enormous amount of information concerning the new technology being used in the building industry. The site lists 90 technologies that improve the energy and resource-efficient CD of commercial and multi-residential buildings. All of these should be applicable to single-family dwellings construction. Please see APPENDIX A for many more links to more information.

After looking at this and much more evidence I have little room for in this paper, I do believe that zero-carbon balance construction is possible and would not greatly inconvenience anyone. The main evidence in the news and other media shows that we need to do something or this planet will die. We can apply these techniques for home building and use more efficient energy sources and cars as a beginning. I am certain that we should do much more, but there is no reason not to do those things which cause us no harm and little inconvenience now. The worst that could happen if all the scientists are wrong is that we will save money and power.

Appendix A

Glass in Buildings with Great Amounts of Glass (Highly Glazed)

  • Curtain Walling: solid walls of glass, often with improved UV filters and temperature controls. Generally occupants can see out, but wall appears solid from the outside.
  • Structural Silicone Glazing: windows and light spaces
  • Glass Roofs: These can be sloped, curved or flat, and are strong enough to be walked upon, though maintenance usually is done from permanent moving washing and access racks.
  • Glass Atria: High ceilinged openings which can accommodate fulol grown trees in planters.
  • Overhead glazing: skylights and dormers
  • Glazed screens and walls: These are usually interior
  • Glazed doors and shop fronts: These can be interior or first floor shopping sections. (Courtesy Ridal, Reid and Garvin 2005)

Downloadable Reports

Daylighting Guide for Canadian Commercial Buildings

General Building Information

Green Building Information Council – Information and links on green building design

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network – U.S. Department of Energy information site

Smart Communities Network – U.S. Department of Energy information on green buildings

American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) – standards and conference proceedings dealing with building energy efficiency
National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) – U.S. organization championing sustainable technologies and community-based approaches that protect natural resources and assist people, especially the economically disadvantaged, in becoming more self-reliant.

Canadian Government Agencies

Office of Energy Efficiency – Natural Resources Canada’s initiatives to encourage energy efficiency

CANMET of Natural Resources Canada – Information on building research and programs

High-rise and Multiples Innovation Group of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation – Information on residential buildings

Public Works and Government Services Canada – Information on the greening of government buildings

Renewable Energy Information

Renewable Energy Deployment Initiative (REDI) – federal incentive program for renewable technologies

RETScreen software – for the feasibility assessment of renewable technologies

Solar Energy Society of Canada Inc. (SESCI) – Information on renewable energy and order form for Canadian Renewable Energy Guide

Independent Power Producers of Ontario – Information on private power generation

Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technologies (CREST) – information on renewable and energy efficient technologies

Energy-Efficient Building Information

Commercial Building Incentive Program – for incentives and case studies on energy-efficient buildings

Energy Efficient Windows Collaborative – Description of technologies used in energy-efficient windows

American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) – information on energy efficiency technologies

Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) – information on energy efficient lighting

Energy Star – lists of products meeting energy star guidelines

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory – information on energy efficient building technologies

Indoor Air Quality and Materials

Environmental Building News – on-line version of publication dealing with all aspects of sustainable buildings

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Indoor Air Quality – information on achieving good indoor air quality in buildings


Gore, Al, An Inconvenient Truth, 2006, Lawrence Bender Productions.

NATIONAL RENEWABLE ENERGY LABORATORY, 2001. ON the Path to Zero Energy Homes. Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of Energy.

Maslow, A.H.. A Theory of Human Motivation, Psychological Review 50 (1943):370-96.

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