Pakistan has four seasons. Our homes shelter us from all kinds of weather conditions, including hot summers, cold winters, rain and hail storm etc. Heating or cooling the houses takes a lot of energy, which is getting expensive daily. Pakistan is suffering from economic instability, and the demand for housing is ever-increasing. Hence, affordable energy saving is much needed. Construction of any building is a massive emitter of carbon dioxide, and its electricity use and heating cause approximately 10 billion metric tons per year worldwide. Hence, measures must be taken to reduce high emissions and ensure affordable and sustainable living.
As the population is increasing, housing demand is increasing with it. Every country has variations in the amount of space people have to live in. Culturally, in Pakistan, most developed areas have big houses with large families living in them compared to the western world, where there are small houses or apartments as the soared income has given rise to the number of people living alone. Bigger houses mean more energy is needed for electricity and heating, resulting in more emission of CO2. However, there are climate-neutral ways which are affordable as well.
Biogas or wood pellets are climate-friendly alternatives to fossil fuels, but with time, these resources are becoming scarce as well. According to experts, heat pumps are also a good option and can generate up to 7 kWh of heat energy from 1 kWh of electricity. In countries like in Scandinavia, where temperatures are low, this technology is used to warm up huge buildings.
Solar power is a destructive technology as the energy is generated by itself from the sun and can greatly lower electricity consumption, especially during the day. Even though solar panels are expensive, they pay back in a few years, after which they can generate free electricity for at least two decades. Moreover, they are climate-friendly and sustainable.
Construction of buildings emits a lot of carbon dioxide, around 0.5-0.8 tons per square meter of living space. Mainly they are produced due to the building material such as concrete, steel and plastic. Renewable resources like wood and renewable insulations can replace such materials.
Refurbishing the building is much more affordable than building a new one. It also saves CO2 emissions and reduces costs. One reason architects and developers should rethink their designs before demolishing is that demolishing and constructing again emits more CO2 and impacts the climate. Hence, renovating is an affordable option.
People in Pakistan prefer larger houses due to societal norms. However, with time, people are discovering it is not a sustainable option. Considering the high maintenance cost, less living space is much more affordable and protects the environment.
Lastly, many older people or single people live in big houses as their children or family move out with time. Such areas can be rented out at low prices and utilised efficiently by young adults or small families. Moreover, extra spaces can be turned into offices. It will be a win-win situation for both the owner and the tenant.