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Terminologies for Net Zero Carbon Emission in Net zero Energy buildings design

A Seminar on Net Zero Energy and Net Zero Carbon Emission , is being held and in the Seminar, we will elucidate the terms clearly, please visit our website page for booking a seat for the seminar.

The common words and terms and terminologies often used in Carbon Emission are :

Biofuelbiofuel is a fuel that is produced through contemporary biological processes, such as agriculture and anaerobic digestion, rather than a fuel produced by geological processes such as those involved in the formation of fossil fuels, such as coal and petroleum, from prehistoric biological matter.

Primary energy – Primary energy consumption is strictly speaking not an environmental impact category, but part of the inventory analysis. The primary energy is usually expressed as MJ per functional unit and includes feed stock energy, process energy, and production and delivery energy.

Global warming – Increasing amounts of greenhouse gases- GHG, which is CO2 or methane, increases the natural greenhouse effect and lead to an increase in global temperature. In the 20th century, global temperature increased by 0.6°C as a result of GHG

AcidificationAcidification refers to acid being deposited in the atmosphere, land or the sea , by the excessive emissions of SO2 and NO2.This can result in strong and damaging acid rains in the air and land which destroys the agricultural yields. The acidification of the sea, affect the weld being of sea life.

Eutrophication Eutrophication happens when an increase of nutrients in water bodies or ground as a result of human activity. Either in the synthetic fertilizers from agricultural land, or discharges from sewage or animal waste. It causes a reduction in species bio- diversity. It is often accompanied by massive growth of dominant species and an the increase production of dead biomass. This lead to depletion of oxygen in the water or soil since its degradation consumes oxygen. This contributes to changes in species composition and death of organisms.

Carbon foot printIt is the amount of CO2 produced in tones for human activity. The time frame of foot print may have to be defined, either the time frame of the construction, annually or the lifetime carbon emission of the building. The accounting principles should be established, such as emissions activates and the sequestering activity for offsetting. The boundary of the site may be used but in reality it extends beyond the site boundaries .for instance the carbon emission of material brought into the site during the construction.

Ecological footprintthe amount of land needed to produce what human, the world’s population what they consume. This concept was developed by Rees and Wackernagel (1994). The human activity is agricultural land for food and pasture, forestation for wood and for travel and comfort.

The land needed to transform the carbon dioxide into organic matter. It has been said that the total ecological footprint of inhabitants goes beyond the availability of space, which is considered ‘unsustainable’. Humanity has moved from using, in net terms, about half the planet’s bio capacity in 1961 to 1.25 times the bio capacity of the Earth in 2003 (Hails et al., 2006). The global ecological deficit of 0.25 Earths is equal to the globe’s ecological overshoot.

Accounting Principles are in 3 stages (as per the Greenhouse Gas Protocol):
stage 1- Required as a result of direct emission of gas.
Stage 2-Required as a result of indirect emission of gas.
Stage 3-Optional, the boundary of the base line for emission of gas can be self defined.

Carbon credit is also referred to as Carbon offset in Carbon Emission

A carbon credit is a tradable certificate or permit to emit one ton of carbon dioxide or the mass of greenhouse gas of equivalent to one ton of carbon dioxide.

Transportation Carbon is the amount of CO2 used by the occupants to get to work .It is measured as lbs .Co2/per occupant/ year. If the Transportation Carbon is included in the Net Zero Emission, the site location is important and to offset the Carbon, a fleet of cars could be used to transport them to work.

Operational Carbon
-is the amount of carbon emitted by the building’s operation and including the transportation Carbon of the occupants .

Embodied Carbon emissions
can be achieved in many ways such as:
a) purchasing REC (Renewable Energy Certificates) from reliable sources. The reliable sources are characterized by Additionality, which is funding another energy reduction project.
b) Generation of surplus of renewable energy

Carbon neutrality
carbon consideration includes the carbon emission from the production, embodied Carbon neutrality is easily achieved by considering stage 1 and 2 and this is as per the definition of Net Zero Carbon Emission. Total Carbon neutrality is far more difficult to achieve when considering embodied, transport emissions and operational emission.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is an objective method to evaluate the environmental burdens associated with a product, process or activity by identifying and quantifying energy and material uses and releases to the environment, and to evaluate and implement opportunities to influence environmental improvements. The method assesses the entire life cycle of the product, process or activities, encompassing extracting and processing material; manufacturing, transporting and distribution; use, reuse and maintenance; recycling and final disposal (The Society of Environmental, Toxicology and Chemistry, 1993). It is a method for analyzing and assessing the environmental impact of a material, product or service throughout its entire life cycle, usually from the acquisition of raw materials to final disposal.

Life Cycle Cost (LCC)
Like any other investments, attempts to minimize environmental impact of building developments should take into account the associated costs. Life cycle cost (LCC) yields the present value of the current and future expenditures for the procurement of the building and the operation and maintenance throughout its useful life. This allows the financial implications of future savings due to additional investments made at present for enhancing performance (e.g. energy efficiency or durability of materials) which should be assessed for decision making

Water foot print
The water footprint is an indicator of water use that looks at both direct and indirect water use. The water footprint of a product (good or service) is the volume of fresh water used to produce the product, summed over the various steps of the production chain. The water footprint of a consumer is the sum of its direct water use, i.e. the water used at home or in the garden, and its indirect water use, i.e. the water used in the production and supply chains of the goods and services consumed. The water footprint of a business consists of its direct water use, for producing, manufacturing and supporting activities, plus its indirect water use, i.e. the water used in the business’s supply chain. ‘Water use’ is measured in terms of water volumes consumed (evaporated) and/or polluted. The ‘water footprint’ includes three components: consumptive use of rainwater (green water), consumptive use of water withdrawn from groundwater or surface water (blue water) and pollution of water (grey water). A water footprint can be calculated for any product or activity as well as for any well-defined group of consumers (e.g. an individual or family, or the inhabitants of a village, city, province, state or nation) or producers (e.g. a public organization, private enterprise or a whole economic sector). A water footprint is more than a figure for the total water volume used; it refers specifically to the type of water use and where and when the water was used.

Water neutrality
Water neutral’ means that one reduces the water footprint of an activity as much as reasonably possible and offsets the negative externalities of the remaining water footprint. In some particular cases, when interference with the water cycle can be completely avoided – e.g. by full water recycling and zero waste – ‘water neutral’ means that the water footprint is nullified; in many other cases, like in the case of crop growth, water use cannot be nullified. Therefore ‘water neutral’ generally does not mean that water use is brought down to zero, but that the negative economic, social and environmental externalities are reduced as much as possible and that the remaining impacts are fully compensated. Compensation can be done by contributing to (investing in) a more sustainable and equitable use of water in the hydrological units in which the impacts of the remaining water footprint are located.

Blue water water withdrawn from groundwater or surface water
Green water-rain water

Grey water– pollution of water

Energy audit-It assesses the efficiency of the building, an audit of the energy consumption in a building. It will break down the consumption as per the lighting fittings. Air-conditioning, the plug load, equipment load etc. The energy audit will help to evaluate the ways to reduce the electric bill.

Fossil fuel-Fuel that are derived from petroleum or diesel. Coal or natural gas. It is derived from organic matter buried in the ground which has been converted to fuel by anaerobic process naturally.

Green energy– energy that are derived from renewable sources.


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Prepared by Architect Perumal Nagapushnam

What is Architecture ?

The question -What is Architecture ? is often discussed among students of Architecture endlessly. Students of Architecture spend a no of years trying to get the grips of the meaning of Architecture. In the early years the students of Architecture are confused trying to get a grips of it. In this article I wish to reduce this gap of bewildering students.

Architecture  is designing the building space in which we live in. Some define it too broadly as “Architecture is “, others define it as “Architecture is Frozen music “. While there is  truth in this definitions, the space we live in and work in , are our Architectural spaces and as such, it is every thing about us- the Environment.

Net Zero Energy buildings

Traditional Malay House,

Architectural design is putting and making a composition of  the space in a logical meaningful way that makes sense. Thereby there is a indirect correlation ship with how music notes are composed. whereas in building the notes are features and elements borrowed from the past or created anew fulfilling a functional need. You can design spaces that are awful and it is poor taste. Good designs have the following intrinsic attributes:

  • Comfortable and Functional
  • Durable with time
  • Sustainable design with eco biodiversity green ecoconsiderations
  • High energy efficient buildings- read-NZEB
  • Creates an ambiance of the space that it was meant to be
  • A space that creates an emotional experience that leaves traces of memorable experience otherwise it is a shell.
  • Reasonable Costed and not flagrant, buildings of exorbitant cost can achieve anything that you want. A insensibly costly building is a sin.
  • Beautiful with the visually, makes the hears hears sound that are pleasing, allow light to flow and thereby making the space an memorable experience.
  • Defect Free, buildings may look wonderful in the beginning but may result in leakage, cracks and uninhabitable conditions is not good architecture, the right material not the right construction is not used.

    small log mountain house

    small log mountain house

If any of those above is not found in your Architectural designs, it may be due to a deliberate omission. As to achieve all may be difficult and some times impossible. For instance the most beautiful building with great interiors has terrible structural design and high unreasonable cost. So good Architectural design -is all about making compromises along the way with cost, comforts, durability and other contending elements.

History of Architecture

Architecture is as old as History .When we talk of history of the past civilization, we talk of the architecture of the buildings. And buildings are the only remnants of the past. most record, evidences of the cultural activity is studied by the functional spaces of the buildings.the spaces such as baptismal fonts, altars of worship, temples of ancients, places of sacrifice, inscriptions of words on temple walls. Buildings of the past are mostly temples or buildings of worships. the remnants of homes are generally destroyed except for the remnants of the foundations such as in the Indus Civilizations. The civilizations of the past are :

  • Egyptian, Indian, Chinese
  •  Assyrian Period (before Babylon)*1
  • Mesopotamia (Babylon and Before), Ancient Americas (Mayan       …etc)
  • Persian Period
  • Greek Period
  • Roman Period*1
  • French(Gothic )*1
  • Georgian Architecture-The George Whyte’s House *2
  • England(Georgian, Tudor, Victorian)
  • Industrial
  • Modern
    Today buildings are high influenced by one another. For instance:
  1. the White House was patterned after the grandeur of the Roman Capitol
  2. The high rise buildings, in our cities are influenced by the new material manufactured during these periods after.
  3. The Gothic building followed after the Roman, whereas the Gothic (French) improvised from the Roman Arches and post & beam system to heavy arches(flying buttress) which supported higher and magnificent cathedrals.
  4. Chinese, Japanese Architecture while were developed independently but were not influence by the others neither influenced the world as we know of today. Except the Indian influenced spread to Angkor Watt, Malaysia, and Bali Indonesia, which is now the Bali architecture.
  • Post Modern Era
  • Green Sustainability and Net Zero Energy Buildings Movement
  • Zero Carbon emission designs, Carbon neutrality,ZeroCarbon
Carbon Trading

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Prepared by Architect Perumal Nagapushnam


*1 pg 538-566, volume A, World Book Encyclopedia

* 13 Houses of the Founding Fathers by Hugh Howard and Roger Straus 111

*3 pg 30 Foster and Partners by te Neues

*4 pg 73 Foster and Partners by te Neues

*5 pg.47 “The Swimming Pool” by Marta Baker