Major natural disasters could lead to more smart building construction


Recent natural disasters that have plagued Canada over the last few years could soon lead to more efforts aimed at reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. Municipalities and companies looking to further such initiatives may want to look at smart buildings as a way to easily and intelligently become greener.


In a recent op-ed article in The Globe and Mail, former Toronto mayor David Miller wrote that just as 1954’s Hurricane Hazel spurred Toronto into embarking on various conservation efforts, recent flooding in Alberta and Ontario should push municipalities and provinces across Canada to take action on climate change.


According to Miller, both major flooding events, in addition to powerful hurricanes like last year’s Hurricane Sandy, are indicative of the type of extreme weather-related phenomenon that will befall Canadian cities unless political and business leaders act now to lower greenhouse gas emission rates.


“With political will, modern techniques and the latest ideas from cities and governments around the world, we have the capacity to reduce emissions and adjust to climate change at the same time,” Miller wrote. “But we do need to act, and now would be a good time to start.”


Why smart buildings are ideal for fighting climate change

In the fight against man-made climate change, businesses and government entities have numerous targets. While motor vehicles and power plants may be some of the most recognizable sources of carbon dioxide, buildings are some of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases in urban environments. According to the Toronto Atmospheric Fund, burning natural gas to heat buildings and provide electricity to structures represents two of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the city.


“Taken together, natural gas and electricity – used to heat and power our homes and buildings – account for 53 percent of Toronto’s emissions,” the organization said in an April blog post. “In other words, the majority of emissions come from energy use in buildings. We need to make our homes, businesses, and institutions dramatically more efficient over the next 7 years. That means requiring better efficiency from new construction, and retrofitting older buildings as well.”


This is not limited to Toronto either, as buildings and construction are responsible for a large percentage of Canada’s total emissions. According to statistics cited by The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, 48 percent of all greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere in the country come from the buildings industry. As the amount of carbon dioxide being released in North America rises even further over the next few years, construction will become an even bigger contributor to the problem of man-made climate change.


To address this issue, municipalities should encourage more companies to use smart buildings. These structures are equipped with technology that enables the business to more intelligently control variables to ensure that fewer resources are needed to keep operations running. For example, facilities managers can use smart building controls to adjust a room’s temperature based on how many people are present and how much sunlight is pouring through the windows. To implement this kind of arrangement, corporations should turn to FlexITy. As one of Canada’s largest infrastructure design and IT consulting services companies, FlexITy has the experience and technology know-how to turn any structure from an energy waster to an eco-friendly smart building.