REVIEW OF BUILT ENVIRONMENT IMPACTS: INTRODUCTION

INTRODUCTION

Climate change is recognized both as a threat and a challenge. The impact of human activities on climate and climate systems is unequivocal. Climate has a significant role in the economic development of India as many sectors of the country are climate sensitive. Climate change has origins in anthropogenic activities and is engaging the attention of planners, governments, and politicians worldwide. It is no longer a scientific question as to whether the climate is changing, but the question is the timing and magnitude of Climate Change. The governments of the countries across the world are busy in working out the impacts and associated Vulnerabilities of their economies to impending projected climate change. In India, the potential climate change impacts are as follows:
1. Meteorological records indicate rise in the mean annual surface air temperature by 0.4°C with not much variations in absolute rainfall.
2. The tide gauge observations in the last four decades across the coast of India also indicate a rise in sea level at the rate of 1.06-1.25 mm/year.
3. Some preliminary assessments point towards a warmer climate in the future over India, with temperatures projected to rise by 2-4oC by 2050s.
4. Spatial pattern of the rainfall are likely to change, with rise in number and intensity of extreme rainfall events though there may not be any change in total quantity of rainfall expected.
5. The sea level is also projected to rise with cyclonic activities set to increase significantly with warmer oceans.

The continuous warming and the changing rainfall pattern over the Indian region may jeopardize India’s development by adversely impacting the natural

Resources such as water forests, coastal zones, and mountains on which more than 70% of the rural population is dependent. The physiographic features and the geographic location, which control the climate of the country, bestows it with great wealth of its natural resources, surface and ground water availability, forestry and vegetation. The region abounds in very rich collection of flora and fauna, and some of these locations exhibit a high degree of species endemism and constitute biodiversity hotspots of the world. There is an ever increasing recognition of the need for national level assessments which provides an opportunity to enhance our knowledge and understanding about the implication of both the current climate variability as well as the projected adverse impacts of climate change.

The main drivers of the GHG emissions in urban centres are
1. Industries
2. Built Environment
3. Infrastructure
4. Transportation

Only the buildings alone produce approximately 50% of the GHG emissions including from the manufacture of building materials and products, transport of construction materials.

The estimate of resources used in buildings Globally and World pollution attributed to Buildings are as follows

Table1Review of Built Environment-1
(The Impacts of Construction and Built Environment,2010, Willmott Dixon)

The IPCC Fourth report also reiterates the necessity of taking appropriate efforts to bring down carbon emissions from the buildings sector. In its comparative study of the energy savings potential of the building sector with that of other economic sectors, it is observed that the building sector has the greatest potential among all sectors, in all countries, and at all cost levels. This holds true for India as well given the high growth rate in construction industry. The exponential increase in energy demand will be exacerbated further by the fact that buildings usually have a life above 50 years which will increase the pollution further.