Regulatory Framework about Climate Change Due to Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Mexican Cities: Urban-Architectural Approach

By Hernandez-Moreno, Silverio; Hernandez-Moreno, Jose Antonio et al. | Theoretical and Empirical Researches in Urban Management, May 2016 | Go to article overview

Regulatory Framework about Climate Change Due to Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Mexican Cities: Urban-Architectural Approach


Hernandez-Moreno, Silverio, Hernandez-Moreno, Jose Antonio, Alcaraz-Vargas, Bianca G., Theoretical and Empirical Researches in Urban Management


1. INTRODUCTION

It is necessary recognizing the main actions that can be taken in order to adapt a climate change caused mainly by the gas emissions of the greenhouse effect in the cities (Kennedy, 2011). This article presents the basic terminology used in environmental impact, climate change and sustainable urban planning followed by a revision of the regulatory framework about the topics, and in the end, a revision for the main actions that are being considered at national level to face the climate change in Mexico, including a proposal in form of a guide (ten points) from the authors. This paper contains the emphasis of urbanism and architecture under an environmental approach that allow us to have access to the knowledge that can be used to resolve complex problems in different cities.

2. REDUCTION OF THE CARBON FOOTPRINT ON CITIES UNDER THE URBAN ARCHITECTURAL APPROACH

The previous basic terminology allows the introduction of the main topic, the reduction of the footprint in cities under the urban architectural approach. The way to reduce the carbon footprint from this approach is, first, by reducing the environmental impacts created mainly by the effects of the energy and the use of the resources during this process, operation and maintenance (what is essentially the service life of the urban infrastructure and equipment); Second, by reducing the carbon footprint of the construction materials that are used to build the cities (Lockie and Berebecky, 2012); understanding the carbon footprint of the materials like all the gases from the greenhouse effect and the emissions of CO2e that were released to the atmosphere the moment the product was extracted, transported and manufactured, this is called "from the cradle to the door".

Another period of the life cycle of the materials could be called "from the cradle to the construction site" and in this case the emissions of CO2 generated from the moment of the extractions of the materials are measured. When the carbon emissions are measured from the moment of extraction of the materials, during the process of manufacture, the end of the construction, use, maintenance and operation of the constructions in the different stages like remodeling, demolitions, etc. until the treatment of the waste and all remains of the building it's called "from the cradle to the grave". It exist another similar concept from the previous and it's called "from the cradle to the cradle" which is practically all the cycle until it becomes a new product or material with similar characteristics (For example: the manufacture and recycle of aluminum).

It's important to mention that talking about environment that are a series of regulations ISO 14000 that talked about the environmental management of all the processes in production that is very useful for the enterprises and institutions that want to adopt politics of protection for the environment.

Talking about the reduction of the carbon footprint on materials and processes, the regulation ISO 14040 about life cycle Evaluation, it is a methodology that helps directly on the processes of reduction of environmental impact, among them, the carbon emissions. This methodology is resumed in figure 1 where you can observe that during the life cycle of any product there is always inputs of raw material and energy and outputs of waste, and emissions that always pollute and can be measured.

By other hand, equivalent CO2 emissions can be exemplified as: 1 Kg of methane is the same as 25 Kg of CO2, therefore 1 Kg de methane = 25 Kg of CO2e. Table 1 presents some instances of greenhouse effects and their co2e.

The quantity of carbon contain in materials are all those carbon emissions to the atmosphere, associated to the consumption of energy and the chemical processes during every life cycleof materials or products, express in Kg of CO2e by Kg of material. Another important concept "the operational carbon" that refers to the carbon emissions that are generated during the servicelife of buildings, this is the phase of use, maintenance and operation of the buildings. …

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