Climate Change is one of the most serious threats to society of humans and can be said, ironically, it is a threat that humans have created on their own. The concentration of Greenhouse gases globally, has increased since 1750 whose main contributor is carbon dioxide (CO2) which by volume has increased predominantly.
The term Carbon footprint was tossed about a decade ago as was identified as a tool to measure GHG emissions from the debate on climate change. In simple words, carbon footprint may be defined as the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, organization, or community. The increasing worldwide interest in causes and consequences of climate change, and in exploring ways to respond in 1988 led to the formation of the Intergovernmental Panel on climate change (IPCC). The first assessment of IPCC was released in 1990 which lead to the formation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It is an international environmental treaty to stabilize GHG concentrations in the atmosphere. The UNFCCC led to the formation of the Kyoto Protocol which was an international agreement to cut GHG emissions. Kyoto protocol developed a mechanism to allow for offsetting GHG emissions and a system for emission trading. The emission trading system, also known as carbon market allows countries to sell unused emission permits to the countries whose targets have been crossed.
Carbon footprint comprises as many components as GHG that are included in the analysis of a system. It depends upon the scope of study whether one wants to include the only CO2 for the analysis or one wants to consider all greenhouse gases for the analysis. The carbon footprint calculation helps in the calculation of mitigation measures and emissions management. When we calculate the emissions, the important sources of emissions can be identified and the efficiency can be increased by reducing the identified emissions.
The construction sector emitted more than a third of global energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2), a record 10 gigatonnes (Gt) in 2019, as reported in the United Nations Environment Programme on December 16, 2020. The Indian construction industry is one of the largest in terms of the volume of raw materials or natural resources consumed and the volume of construction materials/products manufactured. Energy consumption in the manufacturing and transportation of building materials is directly related to GHG emissions and the related environmental consequences. The Indian construction industry is growing at an alarming rate (>8% per annum). Apart from meeting the energy demand, the material resources for sustainable growth are another important aspect.
Ideal building materials from the consideration of low carbon emissions, least carbon footprint, and potential for recycling etc., are natural materials like soil, stones, and timber/biomass. Unprocessed or least processed natural materials have limitations particularly with reference to strength and durability aspects. Processing and transport of natural materials energy expenditure result in carbon emissions. To minimize carbon emissions it will become essential for device technologies to produce building materials and products with a minimum amount of energy expenditure.
A lot of research work is going on at both the industry and institute level to promote and increase the usage of industrial waste materials and recycled materials so as to lower the requirement of processing new raw material which in turn would help to reduce the carbon footprints.
The Department of Civil Engineering at KIET Group of Institutions is taking up many projects with the B.Tech students involving the use of industrial waste byproducts, Recycled materials, and Eco-Friendly materials to cut down the need of cement and other construction materials whose production causes large emissions of GHG gases. Construction composite materials are being developed on the basis of new researches in the recycling domain as an innovative option with environmental, economic, and performance benefits.