Carbon is probably a bit harder to wrap since it’s procedural – Bill Hayden
When cities expand, they usually encroach on forested areas and agricultural land, thus “consuming” carbon sinks. This makes it harder for municipalities and countries to reach the net-zero emission targets that are essential to avoid a climate catastrophe.
A new tool has been created by Aalto University to assist urban planners in adhering to climate objectives when developing urban areas. The tool offers a measurement that urban planners can utilize to enhance carbon-neutral planning of urban growth, which is crucial for achieving carbon emission targets. The new metric, called the carbon storage (CS) factor, reflects how much carbon can be captured in planned urban developments.
What is the significance of this new tool?
Urban planners can ensure that the carbon storage capacity of a specific area is maintained or even enhanced by comparing the CS factor of different urban development plans that employ various techniques and technologies with the amount of carbon storage capacity that is lost, such as through deforestation. This enables them to take measures that maintain or restore the natural carbon storage capacity of the region.
In order to evaluate the effectiveness of wooden construction in the Helsinki metropolitan area in offsetting deforestation caused by urban growth, the CS factor was employed as a case study by the experts. The analysis showed that up to 70% of future development could preserve the carbon storage capacity of lost forests, provided that suitable wooden construction technologies are used. This requires the use of materials that can store significant amounts of carbon, such as log or cross-laminated timber.
While similar outcomes can be achieved using wooden construction in other parts of the world, such as Europe, Asia, or Oceania, this sustainable approach is only feasible if forests are sustainably managed.
The area of research include the development of carbon offsetting and carbon credits programs, which allow organizations to offset their carbon emissions by investing in projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as renewable energy projects or afforestation programs. The research in this area involves evaluating the effectiveness of such programs and identifying ways to ensure their environmental integrity.
How can you contribute?
To reduce carbon in the atmosphere we can:
- Reduce energy consumption: Reducing energy consumption is one of the most effective ways to reduce carbon emissions. This can be achieved through energy-efficient buildings, appliances, and transportation systems.
- Use renewable energy sources: Switching to renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydropower can significantly reduce carbon emissions.
- Use carbon capture and storage: Carbon capture and storage technology captures carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and industrial facilities and stores them underground or in other locations.