Chennai will cumulatively emit 231.9 million tonnes of Carbon Dioxide (Co2) by 2040 from construction and operations of buildings alone, as per a study conducted at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras.

A team of researchers from Centre for Technologies for Low Carbon and Lean Construction and Indo-German Centre for Sustainability (IGCS), IIT Madras, comprising Prof. Ashwin Mahalingam and ex student Pokhraj Nayak, suggests switching to renewable energy for operational requirements of buildings to reduce emissions from Chennai.

Explaining the significance of this study, Prof. Mahalingam, Department of Civil Engineering, said, “In order to achieve our emissions targets, we need to benchmark what our ‘business as usual’ emissions are likely to be in future and work backwards. This study represents a step in trying to quantitatively address this problem.”

Researchers said the building industry alone is estimated to account for around a quarter of total CO2 emissions in India. “This is mainly due to the emissions that arise out of production of raw materials (such as cement & steel), their transportation to construction sites, energy used during construction and most importantly, the energy used during operation of buildings.”

The research team suggested three measures to reduce carbon emissions:

1. Replace traditional cement with low-carbon cement.

2. Reuse of demolition waste for future construction.

3. Switching to renewable resources to meet the energy requirements of operating buildings.

The researchers said that the single largest contributor to reducing emissions is changing the energy source.

The use of clean energy sources to supply 50% of a building’s operational energy needs would likely result in a corresponding reduction in cumulative CO2 emissions of up to 115 Million tonnes in the period between 2019 and 2040, they said.

However, replacing traditional cement with low carbon cement would have a lower impact in reducing emissions, they added.

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