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Environmental Impact of Buildings: A Building Surveyor’s Perspective

Buildings are one of the greatest destroyers of our environment. As a Building Surveyor/Home Inspector on Costa del Sol I see an ever-increasing supply of buildings. I put a current market value on them, but should that be discounted by the environmental damage they have caused? Their use over decades will create more heat and CO2 and yet few buyers, and many fewer agents and sellers, take the Energy Certificate as anything other than an inconvenience. It’s what lets the buyer compare properties; what the house is going to cost them on a daily basis. Yet, it’s not taken seriously.

Oxygen providing vegetation is destroyed to provide the site. There’s a world shortage of sand and of water, and cement, the third constituent of concrete, is one of the heaviest users of electricity and worst creators of Carbon Dioxide CO2.

Thanks to Simon Berthoud whose edited article on LinkedIn, put ALL of our situation, the world’s, and our responsibilities in detail as follows. He sourced from the Guardian, the New York Times, UN Climate Change, Nature Graph: the Guardian.

  • We’re facing the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced, and we’re not up to it (at all).
  • We should be massively reducing our CO2 emissions.
  • And yet, last year, we produced more GHG (Greenhouse Gas) emissions and extracted more oil and gas than ever before.
  • The previous record? The year before, in 2022.
  • And yet, to have any hope of staying below 1.5 degrees, we would have to reach net zero in 2040…
  • The UN estimates that based on current climate policies we will face global warming of 2.5-2.9°C this century.
  • But what do these figures mean?

    👉 A warming of 2 degrees Celsius will lead to:

  • 37% of the global population exposed to severe heat every 1 in 5 years.
  • ~0,5 meters sea level rise affecting 800 million people by 2050.
  • Multiplication of likelihood and intensity of wildfires.
  • 7% reduction in maize harvests and 3 million tons decline in marine fisheries, putting millions of people at food risk.
  • 16% of plants and 18% of insects losing half of their habitable area.
  • 99% decline in coral reefs.
  • 👉 And 3 degrees?

  • It would be so extreme that it becomes difficult to measure. But studies speak of:
  • Hundreds of millions of people exposed several days per year to life-threatening periods of high heat and humidity.
  • +97% increase in area burned by wildfires in average Mediterranean summer.
  • Droughts lasting 10 months on average.
  • A quarter of the Earth’s species going extinct.
  • ✅ Almost all of this is still avoidable.

    But it requires EVERYONE to change EVERYTHING!

  • We must leave behind the belief that small incremental changes will suffice.
  • We need to change the rules of our economic system.
  • “No matter what we sell, no matter the cost to the environment, all that matters is making more money for shareholders leads us straight to disaster”: This cannot continue!
  • We must stop believing in the fairy tales of “green economic growth”.
  • Science is clear: More than 800 peer-reviewed studies show that we can’t reduce our emissions fast enough while continuing to blindly grow our economies.
  • We need to stop pointing the finger at emerging countries and start imposing radical changes in rich countries and people – which are the main contributors to the current crisis
  • Indeed, the richest countries and people are directly responsible for half of the CO2 currently in the atmosphere, even though they account for only 12% of the world population.
  • We have to stop naively believing in the promises of multinationals, whose only goal is ever-increasing profits.
  • 💚AND, most importantly:

  • We have to get away from the belief that we are powerless as individuals, because as individuals we’ve created and perpetuate the problem.
  • Individually we can do much with our decisions, actions and influence.
  • We have no choice. We must turn things around and create a desirable environment for us all.
  • Global CO2 pathways

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