Effects of the Constructıon Sector on the Clımate Change
In my view, it would not be wrong to say that climate change is the most important and common problem faced by humanity in today’s world, regardless of status, time, and place. We prefer not to condescend to worry about climate change since we have not yet felt these side effects in our daily lives actually, or we think we still have the opportunity to ignore the existing effects. Still, maybe we will realize the climate crisis when we no longer have a world to worry about the things that we worry about today!
While this situation goes on like this, in this article, I have aimed to show how this problem takes up a big space in our lives. I will be specifically focusing on the effects of the construction industry on climate change. I will also mention that, even though it can not completely be possible to avoid the damage given to the environment by the construction sector, its consequences can be reduced. Lastly, although I will only cover Turkey as a case in this article, I want to indicate that this is a global issue. However, at least for now, there is no problem with the scope being more local.
What do we see when we look out of our windows or when we have the opportunity to take a glance at the city we live in from a high place? Dozens, hundreds, thousands of houses… Which I cannot say anything about because it is obvious that millions of people need somewhere to live. However, unfortunately, unplanned urbanization brought along by the population density, especially in big cities such as Istanbul is an undeniable fact and I can say a few things about this.
Unplanned urbanization means the urbanization of areas without a plan prepared by the state. While these buildings are built social reinforcements and green areas are ignored and an asphalt jungle is formed. The construction of unsuitable buildings reduces energy efficiency whereas the distance of buildings to green areas decreases the life quality of people. At the same time, unplanned urbanization has a great impact on the formation of heat islands that trigger climate change. The reason heat-islands are formed is that air is getting hotter which is caused by intense concreting and reflection of the sunrise from the windows of the buildings. The processes, results, and effects of unplanned urbanization can be shortly summarized like this. To prevent this situation, it is necessary to carry out urban transformation in a way that prevents the formation of heat islands in unplanned urbanized areas and to increase green areas.
At this point, speaking of green, I would like to talk about a notion that we encounter more and more day by day, but still not very common in our lives: green buildings. It can be said that green buildings are designed and built according to certain international standards, providing comfortable living spaces for the inhabitants while using energy, water, and other natural resources efficiently. Although, it is a practice that contractors generally abstain because of high costs; it is an indisputable fact that green buildings provide more profit during their lifetime thanks to the energy efficiency. It is an efficient implementation to minimize the negative effects of the construction sector on the environment. So, we have already put forward two solutions for this problem: urban transformation practices and green buildings!
If we consider the construction sector in general, it is possible to observe the damages given to the environment even before the construction of a building. The heat generated during the production of materials that buildings will be built from; the heat released by the construction vehicles that consume fossil fuels to the environment; the daily energy use of the construction sites… All of these processes contribute negatively to global warming and their negative contribution continues to increase as the processes increasingly go on. There is also an area that is destroyed before the building of the building and lots of trees are cut down. On the other hand, even though as a natural process of the construction sector the environment is damaged; current policies might be reconsidered to minimize this damage. In addition, choosing wood instead of concrete can contribute to a sustainable life by providing a very high amount of energy saving.
There are no major deficiencies in terms of legislation and standards in Turkey. Unfortunately, the main problem in Turkey is that everyone can build a building which means that necessary importance is not given to sub-branches of the construction sector. The climate crisis we are in can be prevented to some extent by disseminating the practices I mentioned above, and most importantly, by taking the “know-how” consultants who are experts in these subjects more seriously.