IIT Madras researchers study increasing CO2 emissions from buildings; suggest solution

IIT Madras researchers predicted that Chennai would emit 231 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2040; suggested switching to renewable energy.

IIT Madras researchers study increasing CO2 emissions from buildings; suggest solution IIT Madras professor
Vagisha Kaushik | Jan 5, 2023 - 12:31 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras have conducted a quantitative study to address the issue of increasing carbon dioxide emissions due to the construction of buildings. The researchers suggested that switching to renewable sources of energy for operational requirements of buildings would help in reducing emissions.

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IIT Madras researchers predicted that Chennai could cumulatively emit 231.9 million tonnes of Co2 by the year 2040 from just the construction and operations of buildings owing to rapid urbanisation.

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The study was conducted by a team of researchers from the Centre for Technologies for Low Carbon and Lean Construction, IIT Madras, and the Indo-German Centre for Sustainability (IGCS) IIT Madras, comprising professor Ashwin Mahalingam, Department of Civil Engineering, IIT Madras, and Pokhraj Nayak, former student, IIT Madras.

The researchers undertook the study in three phases:

  • The team leveraged geo-spatial modelling techniques to simulate how Chennai would look in 2040.
  • The researchers used Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) techniques to understand the extent of carbon emissions that Chennai would accrue due to urbanisation.
  • The team developed several scenarios where alternative building materials and energy sources are used in Chennai’s development to evaluate technologies that could lead to the largest reduction in emissions.

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How to reduce the CO2 emissions

The research team suggested three measures to reduce carbon emissions:

  • Replace traditional cement with low-carbon cement
  • Reuse of demolition waste for future construction
  • Switching to renewable resources to meet the energy requirements of operating buildings.

IIT Madras researchers found that the single largest contributor to reducing emissions was the change in energy sources. “The use of clean energy sources to supply 50% of a building’s operational energy needs was also likely to result in a corresponding reduction in cumulative CO2 emissions of up to 115 Million tonnes, in the period between 2019 and 2040. Replacing traditional cement with low carbon cement had a lower impact in reducing emissions,” said IIT Madras.

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