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Environmental conservation is a critical component of infrastructure and engineering. The engineering function is involved with the development and construction of infrastructure and buildings across the globe. However, although such infrastructures and development are aimed at creating development they at times pause a significant challenge. Sahu (2015, p.625) argued that in the development of any infrastructural system, consideration should not only be placed on the costing aspects of the process, but on the planet context. In this case, the context, the planet consideration should be in a manner that the infrastructural systems are developed in the manner that creates the sustainable use of the existing resources' as well as ensuring there is no destruction of the immediate and long-term environmental conditions. This report develops a critical evaluation of the process through which engineering could be merged with environmental considerations in building new structures. The report is developed in the recognition that in the developing nations, buildings account for the highest proportion of development driver. As such, in order to ensure that the development process is sustainable in the long term process, the report evaluates how new technology systems would be applied in the building modelling and construction stages respectively. The report concludes with a recommendation on the extent to which the technology could be applied and adopted.
Description of Technology
The proposed technology in building and construction is on energy consumption and sustainability. Currently, in the developing nations, most of the buildings rely on conventional; hydropower and petroleum-based electricity. As such, this is not a sustainable energy source as it is not renewable and its use eventually causes environmental pollution, the fact that the developing nation's demand for energy in more and more constructed buildings necessitates the need to develop a sustainable energy source of such buildings (Ellabban, Abu-Rub and Blaabjerg, 2014, p.742). One of the currently employed strategies and technologies is the use of solar powered energy. Solar power energy includes the tapping of sunlight rays from the environment and converting the solar energy into electricity energy that can be relied upon for energy supply. This has emerged as a popular trend especially in the developing nations rural areas where conventional power is unavailable. However, with proper technology advancement and changes, the source of energy could be converted form a mere stand in for areas where conventional energy is unavailable to a source that not only complements but also a replacement of the conventional non-clean energy sources respectively. This report section offers a description of both the current application of solar as an energy source and offers a future oriented approach on how the current technology status and context could be improved and advanced into the future. In this case, current technology application includes the use of three stages of energy development.
First, the process includes the installation of solar panel that traps sunlight rays through a photovoltaic chemical reaction and converts them into electricity. The second stage is the storage of the trapped and converted energy. The solar panels are limited to trapping light during the day and thus there is need to conserve the energy is rechargeable batteries. The final stage is the installation of solar output tools and other energy conservation output devices for use. The current application of this technology has been in a limited scope. In this case, the installation of the devices and the technology emerges as lat stage in the construction process. Thus, it is not part of the modelling designing and building planning stages respectively (Ahmad and Tahar, 2014, p.462). This has limited the overall efficiency of the energy source as it lacks the ability to be compatible with some of the buildings. For instance, in the case of story buildings, the roofing space is at times left open or lacks enough space to install such solar panels as would be required to power such entire buildings. Consequently, although a cheaper and cleaner source of energy in the long-term period, the generated energy issued only for limited applications such as heating showers and other non-core uses. On the contrary, the core energy use needs rely on the conventional electricity non-renewable sources.
Inputs and Outputs
In the execution of the solar walling technology in buildings', there will be a series of inputs and outputs that would be required and generated in the process. On the one hand, in terms of the required resources the building and construction industry is the development of the solar cell glasses. Currently, the glass manufacturing companies lack enough resources to incorporate the cells into the glasses respectively. On the other hand, it will be required that the organisations develop the right machinery and manufacturing equipment to support the manufacturing of the glasses. Secondly, an adjustment will be based on the sourcing of the photovoltaic cells and elements in the manufacturing process (Dincer and Acar, 2015, p.601). Therefore, this will mean an additional input and cost in the glass manufacturing and installation process.
A second cost and input in the manufacturing and the installation process is through the purchase of the energy storage devices. As already mentioned, the conventional energy sources' require no storage devices in the buildings'. Therefore, once the basic functions such as installation and wiring are accomplished there are no additional costs in the process. However, with the use of solar walling, it would mean that the solar generated energy during the day would need to be stored and as such the need for the installation of the storage devices. This will increase the overall installation costs in the buildings. The major problem with the process and the inputs are that there will be required more storage spaces. The ideal system would be to have a centralised power centre for the buildings overall supply.
Besides the inputs required, there will eventually be some outputs and waste in the process. The proposed technology application magnitude is bound to generate power for all the energy uses. However, some days vary in terms of energy generation and sunlight intensity. Similarly, the intensity of sunlight varies from one city to the other within the same region. Therefore, there is a likelihood that the generated energy would be in excess than the buildings could consumer over a given period of time. If not well managed, this would turn into waste energy that is released back into the environment (Chen et al, p.1037). Although it has no direct impact on the environment, this would increase the cost of energy production in the market. Nevertheless, the model and technology changes proposed are focused on ensuring that such execs energy that would have emerged as a waste are eventually channelled to the national grid. Additionally, the process of operations’ is likely to face the problems of fragility. Traditionally, as it stands today, the solar generating devices are glass solar panels. This makes them a delicate wall for commercial buildings. This would lead to eventual breakages and broken glasses that would end up as waste and an environmental pollution source. This report proposes that in the manufacturing value chain there should be enough focus on recycling. This means that for any building walling that breaks or fails the manufactures would replace at a lower cost and recycle the products.
Analysis of Impacts
The proposed technology developments are bound to have far-reaching implications on the environment and to the society at large. Although the impacts would also include the economic implications, this review focuses on the environmental implications, both potential positive and the negative implications respectively. On the one hand, there numerous possible positive implications of the technology application. The first positive impact is a reduction in the use of conventional energy sources'. Currently, the most common source of energy is the use of hydropower, nuclear power, and fossil energy sources.
Unfortunately, the hydropower that is widely used in the developing nations' is not renewable. This makes it unsustainable in the long-term period. Secondly, the used inputs generate waste that is harmful to the environment. For instance, the resulting gases lead to global warming and air pollution. In this regard, the carbon emissions, and air pollution have an impact on both the human beings and the environment. This is an issue addressed by the use of solar energy in the buildings across the globe (Kalogirou, 2013, p.107). The use of this source of energy would eventually reduce carbon emission on the environment. In this case, it would imply that the process of generating power does not have the carbon emission by-products. In the long run period, this would impact on the environment significantly.
First, reduction in carbon emission would translate into reduced global warming and reduced rising sea levels. This has been a major phenomenon in islands such as Balboa Island that in the recent past has faced the challenge of rising sea water levels covering the initial beach areas in the Island. The use of solar energy although in minimal levels would significantly reduce the implications on the environment. The possibility of the use of clean energy through solar power and the sharing to even the traditional buildings would reduce the extent and nature to which the conventional energy has been used.
Alternatives and Discussion
This report argues that the adjustment of the technology into the future could be applied as an alternative to the challenge currently experienced. This is through eliminating the current perception of lighting as a final non-building process related aspects. Instead, it should be perceived and integrated with the building process. This has been applied in some select commercial buildings globally but has not gained tracking across the globe. In this case, the report proposes that the main panels used in generating the required energy should be used as part of the building materials. For instance, many buildings today seek to create lighting effectiveness through reducing opaque walls and instead using translucent glasses. In this case, this report argues that the solar power generating technology should be incorporated in the manufacturing of the glasses (Jamel, Rahman and Shamsuddin, 2013, p.75). As such, this would ensure that the used glasses serve a multiple purposes that is ensuring enough natural lighting during the day and ensuring there enough energy generation that could later be used in lighting at night. The use of such glasses to replace the current opaque walls would serve in creating environmental sustainability through two strategies avenues.
Much energy is consumed unnecessarily in buildings during the day. In this case, poor ventilation and lighting access to many of rooms especially in large malls and commercial buildings. This force the users of such malls and rooms to light up even during the day which is an ineffective use of energy. The proposed technology will resolve this by ensuring that the sued solar panel glasses on the walls will ensure there is enough lighting during the day and thus reducing the need for actual lighting during such times. Secondly, the use of the solar panels on the walls will create enough sources for instilling the panels. Currently, as already mentioned above, the buildings only install the panels on the roofing thus reducing enough space (Hosseini and Wahid, 2016, p.862). In the future, and with the use of solar glass walls there will be enough energy generation that would eventually ensure that there is enough energy generation for the entire building energy needs.
Additionally, this report proposes a change in the manner through which the generated energy is managed. In this regard, the current solar-powered buildings generate and ensure the energies in isolation. In this case, each of the buildings uses their own energies which at times could be in excess or in deficiencies. This report advocates for the channelling of the generated energy to the centralised power grid. In this case, the same approach should be applied in a similar model to the conventional power grid system. This would ensure that the power generated at different times is channelled to the system. Thus, this would serve the society and the environment in two different approaches (Singh, 2013, p.9)’. First, for the channelling of power to the centralised grid would ensure that in times of surplus generation, the power is stored in the grid and can be used in times of less generation of power. This is especially during seasons such as winter and rainy seasons when sunlight hours are considerably reduced. Secondly, the use of a centralised grid system would ensure that the power and the sustainable energy source is shared across the regions. In this case, there are many buildings that are already established and lack the proposed technology systems in the walling process. Thus, the proposed technology cannot be adjusted to fit the already existing buildings’ (Lewis, 2016, p.674).
As such, there is the need for developing an innovate process that could also ensure that the technology is widespread, Through the use of a centralised power grid system, entities' would ensure that the power is shared and supplied to the already existing apartments. Thus, this would ensure that the technology creates an impact not just to the single buildings but to the entire towns and cities within which such new generation buildings are built in. The sharing of such sustainable power would impact on the costs involved in the power generation process. In this case, the users of such energy would do so at a fee which would earn the building's revenue. Thus, this would mean that the used solar glass walling serves as a source of revenue for the buildings over their duration period. This new revenue stream outweighs and nets off the cost production and installation incurred as a high initial cost.
In summary, this report develops a critical evaluation of the role of technology in creating sustainable environmental practices. In this case, the report delves deeper into the case of building and energy use. In this context, it singles out the fact that the current use of non-renewable and non-clean energy has increased environmental pollution. This creates the overall understanding that there is a need for the current building models and plans to incorporate a plan component that allows for sustainability in energy use. Currently, the report recognises that there is an increasing trend towards the use of solar energy. However, this current application has a series of challenges. First, it is not considered as part of the strategic building planning process and is only considered as an afterthought. In this case, this has limited the ability for solar energy to serve entire buildings of all their energy needs. Therefore, there is a need for the current building systems and structures’ to advance and expand their scope to allow for the actual modelling and inclusion of a sustainable energy system in the building structures. As such, the report proposes the use of solar energy walling would ensure the reduced use of such energy and allow for reduced environmental pollution. Although it would imply higher initial costs, the fact that it offers a new revenue stream through sharing the excess power onto the grid reduces the costs in the long run period.