Reduce the impact of your building project.
- 7 Principles of Impact Reduction
- Site matters.
- Disturbance is impact.
- Natural ecosystems sequester carbon.
- Smaller is better.
- Buildings can sequester carbon.
- Material choice matters.
- Reuse to reduce impact.
Site and location matter. The location of a project will have a direct impact on the overall carbon footprint. Where you choose to build will impact the potential carbon release and the potential for carbon sequestration in the landscape. Is it a brownfield site? Is it a degraded or a pristine ecosystem? Can you restore an ecosystem in the process of developing your project?
Disturbance is impact. Protect existing soil and vegetation and move things only when needed. Do you really need to move a pile of soil multiple times? Do you need to build a temporary structure? Can you re-use equipment and materials?
Natural ecosystems sequester carbon. Natural ecosystems sequester a lot of carbon. Most of this is stored below ground and is easily released by soil disturbance. Appropriate landscaping sequesters carbon, and can be designed and maintained to accumulate additional carbon over time. Have you minimized soil disturbance? What landscapes are best suited to your site and ecoregion? Can you use natural ecosystems be used to help lower your carbon footprint?
Smaller is better. Less building results in less embodied carbon. What is your building program? How do you use space? Can you take advantage of outdoor space? How much building do you really need?
Buildings can sequester carbon. Choose materials that reduce your carbon footprint. Wood from certified renewable sources, or wood salvaged from demolition and saved from the landfill can often be considered net carbon sinks. Planting new trees can compensate for the carbon released during material transport.
Material choice matters. Material choice can reduce your building embodied carbon footprint. Where did the material come from? Is it local? Did it require a lot of energy to extract it or to get it to your building? Can it be replaced at the source? Was it recycled? Can it be recycled or reused easily? Is the material durable or will it need to be replaced?
Reuse to reduce impact. It is possible to avoid new embodied carbon by reusing a site or a structure. Make the changes necessary to improve the operational carbon footprint of an old building, before building new. Is there an existing building or site that suits your needs? Can you adapt a building with minimal change?