IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group III: Mitigation of Climate Change Consider building form, orientation and related attributes

At the early design stages, key decisions – usually made by the architect – can greatly influence the subsequent opportunities to reduce building energy use. These include building form, orientation, self-shading, height-to-floor-area ratio and decisions affecting the opportunities for and effectiveness of passive ventilation and cooling. Many elements of traditional building designs in both developed and developing countries have been effective in reducing heating and cooling loads. Urban design, including the clustering of buildings and mixing of different building types within a given area greatly affect the opportunities for and cost of district heating and cooling systems (Section 6.4.7) as well as transport energy demand and the shares of different transport modes (Chapter 5, Section 5.5.1). Minimize halocarbon emissions

Many building components – notably air conditioning and refrigeration systems, foam products used for insulation and other purposes and fire protection systems – may emit greenhouse gases with relatively high global-warming potentials. These chemicals include chlorofluorocarbons, hydrochlorofluorocarbons, halons (bromine-containing fluorocarbons) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). While the consumption of the first three is being eliminated through the Montreal Protocol and various national and regional regulations, their on-going emission is still the subject of strategies discussed in the IPCC special report (IPCC/TEAP, 2005). Meanwhile, the use and emissions of HFCs, mostly as replacements for the three ozone-depleting substances, are increasing worldwide.

For many air conditioning and refrigeration applications, the CO2 emitted during the generation of electricity to power the equipment will typically vastly outweigh the equivalent emissions of the HFC refrigerant. Some exceptions to this general rule exist and two building-related emission sources – CFC chillers and HFC supermarket refrigeration systems – are discussed further. In addition to these applications, some emission mitigation from air conditioning and refrigeration systems is achievable through easy, low-cost options including education and training, proper design and installation, refrigerant leakage monitoring and responsible use and handling of refrigerants throughout the equipment lifecycle.

Like air conditioning and refrigeration systems, most foams and fire protection systems are designed to exhibit low leak rates, and therefore often only emit small portions of the total fluorocarbon under normal use conditions. Upon decommissioning of the building and removal and/or destruction of foam products and fire protection systems, however, large portions of the remaining fluorocarbon content may be released, particularly if no specific measures are adopted to prevent such release. This raises the need to ensure that proper end-of-life management protocols are followed to avoid these unnecessary emissions.