Researchers at Colorado State University have been awarded a $600,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop measurement and assessment tools that architects and others can use to measure greenhouse gases produced by construction activity in real time.
The green building assessment tools will be integrated with existing architectural design software and building material databases to provide “on-the-fly” carbon footprint metrics. The concept for the metrics was proposed by a CSU construction management graduate student, Peter Means. Students and faculty from the inter-disciplinary School of Global Environmental Sustainability then submitted the proposal to the science foundation.
The reasoning behind the project is that if GHG can not be measured, it can not be managed. CSU cites the Energy Department’s information agency data, which shows that buildings produce 50 percent of the country’s GHG while vehicles produce less than 30 percent. While scientists have discovered a lot of information about the carbon footprint of buildings, this knowledge has yet to reach the hands of building professionals who could take action to lower the footprint, researchers say.
CSU researchers will focus on comprehensive life cycle assessments, from design through construction, of three progressively more complex buildings: a cutting-edge modular residential building designed by Living Homes in Los Angeles, a CSU classroom and laboratory building in Fort Collins designed by Neenan, and an industrial building — the New Belgium brewery in Asheville, NC.
The metrics system will allow those working in the architecture, engineering and construction industries to create an integrated design for a built environment with net-zero GHG. CSU says the project has been endorsed by the American Institute of Architects, the US Green Building Council, the National Institute for Building Science, the Rocky Mountain Institute and Architecture 2030.
In July, the US and China agreed on five initiatives to cut GHG emissions including reducing vehicle pollution, increasing carbon capture projects and improving buildings’ energy efficiency.