Thursday, 7 April 2011

Carbon Credits in Affordable Habitat

Experts are of the view that a green building construction costs around 8-10% more than an otherwise conventional construction. The cost factor is of lower significance in a commercial building rather than that for residential one. While talking about affordable habitat for lower income group, the significance of the added costs presents a even bigger challenge. 


How can a clean technology be made more affordable?


Can carbon credits trading be a probable answer to it?


For example, use of vertical shaft brick kiln rather than the conventional kilns saves on fuel, is more energy efficient, produces lower emissions and gives better quality in terms of colour, ring and strength. Development Alternatives have used this technology and earned funding for their building construction through carbon credits trading. []


Similarly, NGOs in Karnataka are trading reduced carbon emissions to fund a biogas project (substituting firewood used by villagers). The project brings in additional benefits like improved quality of life, smoke and ash free cooking, women and children have to no longer make long crusades into the forests to collect firewood and the saved time can be put to other constructive work, the sludge is used as a fertile manure, better sanitation created by the anerobic digestion of biological waste, employment opportunities, etc. []

All these projects use the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) to earn carbon credit funding. The ground reality of the CDM mechanism is: It is too expensive and time consuming to be of any economic viability for small scale projects. Hence many are resorting to the voluntary carbon credits market which provides lower economic value for the carbon credits but is way easier to achieve. []

How can we use carbon credits to affordable habitat?

The first and the foremost step is to identify and design all ways in which the habitat can be constructed and thereafter operated during its lifetime in the most sustainable manner.

Thereafter depending on the scale of the project, CDM or voluntary market can be opted.