The development of human civilization is intimately associated with our capacity to adapt to the environment, among other ways, through our use of garments and construction. Our ancestors have developed technologies to build houses using resources from the environment and learned how to adapt them to the local climate.
In Brazil, nowadays, we are seeing a huge growth in the construction area. And in these times of technological abundance, a lot of the development is happening in the urban areas. Unfortunately, if this construction is not done with a lot of foresight, you can get a lot of inefficient buildings. For example, many urban buildings with glassed facades almost become like greenhouses by capturing heat, lowering thermal comfort, and increasing consumption of energy and natural resources.
If construction continues like this in Brazil, it can be devastating for the planet. Around the world, construction consumes about 40% of energy, 16% of drinking water, and 25% of hardwood forests (UNCHS, 1993) – and construction emits half of the greenhouse gases that are changing the climate (Der Petrocian, 2001).
We usually do not think about the impact that our houses have on the environment. Nor do we often think about the great impact that the environment will have over our houses as the climate continues to change. If we can learn to start to value the energy efficiency of a home even more than we value how it looks, we will be a lot better prepared to handle the environmental challenges ahead.
As we learn ways to make our homes more efficient, we can ensure not only for our own comfort and security, but also help to combat climate changes and their severe consequences.
The global efforts to mitigate these consequences of construction exist, but they are happening too slowly for the needs of the planet. Each of us needs to do our part. We must adapt our buildings to the needs of the environment, otherwise, things can get even more devastating.
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