The new design of the new Capitol building, which has been criticised by some for the size and design of some of the structures, could help to protect it from climate change, researchers have said.
In a paper published this week, the researchers said the design of this $2 billion structure is more suitable for climate change than previous buildings, which could help the construction process to move towards a more sustainable one.
The researchers said they looked at the structural design of all existing structures in Australia and New Zealand, including the new Parliament, to see how their design could help protect the structure from climate impact.
“We wanted to see if there was a pattern in which there were some buildings that were more suitable than others for climate impact and we found some interesting patterns,” said Professor Mark Goulston, who led the research.
“If we look at existing buildings, we find a lot of structures that are more suited for climate control than others.”
Prof Goulstone said it is important to look at the whole building to understand the design’s ability to meet climate change.
“It’s not just about the size of the structure, it’s the materials used and the materials that are being used, it also includes the materials and materials that will be put in place to protect the building from the environment,” he said.
“The main thing is to look over a large area and to think about how the materials are being chosen, and to then look at what can be done to minimise that impact on the environment.”
In particular, the scientists looked at existing building materials and found that carbon dioxide and water were a major factor.
“This was a really important finding because this is a big project and it’s going to take some time to do all of these buildings and we don’t want to put too much pressure on them to meet the carbon dioxide emissions targets,” Professor Goulson said.
For instance, they found that a typical house would have a carbon footprint of around 400 tonnes of CO2.
In addition, the carbon footprint was higher for older structures, which can be up to a million years old.
“So we have to take these into account and we have a very large number of older structures that we’re not looking at,” Professor Mark said.
A greenhouse building in a city buildingThe research team also looked at carbon footprints for the building’s roof and foundation, which were estimated at around 50,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per hectare.
“Our research suggests that buildings with a lot more carbon are better at meeting the greenhouse gases targets,” he added.
“And so the carbon footprints are higher for the more expensive buildings, whereas the cheaper structures are less likely to have a large footprint.”
While the building will have a lot fewer greenhouse gases than the existing Parliament building, Professor Gyrson said the new structure could still meet climate targets.
“They’ve got the new roof and the new foundation, so they’re very likely to be able to meet their targets,” Prof Goulton said.
“The question is, how much can they reduce and still meet their carbon emissions targets?”
He said the research could help determine whether the carbon emissions from the new building are sustainable.
“To have a better understanding of the design, and the design in general, how does that influence the building, is really important for the sustainability of the building,” he explained.
“That’s what we’re trying to do here and hopefully will provide some useful information for the planning process.”
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