What Is Net Zero? A Complete Guide to Carbon Neutrality
As the world climate is raging and many countries are facing unprecedented climate crises, we as individuals need to play our part in reducing our carbon footprint. So, if you’re motivated and want to drastically reduce your energy use, you need to follow the concept of “net zero.”
Carbon neutrality, or net zero, has been a buzzword in the world of politics and business. You might have heard various organizations and countries speaking about the Paris agreement, counterbalancing carbon emissions, and how it’s linked with global warming.
So, what does carbon neutrality mean, and how do you achieve it?
This comprehensive guide will explain everything you need to know about net zero—from common questions about how it impacts and helps to stop global warming!
Let’s dive in!
What is net zero?
Being encouraged by the multifold benefits of sustainable living, more and more homeowners are looking to renovate existing homes and make them “net-zero .”Net zero, or net zero carbon, refers to the practice of removing as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as you emit.
However, the concept of “net-zero” differs slightly from carbon neutrality in that it actively removes the excess emissions rather than simply balancing them by planting trees or offsetting the emissions with renewable energy credits.
With energy-conscious retrofits, you can make your house as efficient as possible and then with the addition of renewable energy; you can offset what your home uses and makes it “net-zero. ”Such environmentally sustainable dwellings produce as much energy as it consumes.
Carbon neutrality is a state of net-zero greenhouse emissions. This can be achieved by balancing emissions of carbon dioxide with its removal by eliminating emissions from society. More specifically, it’s the point at which the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stays constant.
The term “net zero” has emerged in the backdrop of the Paris Agreement, which is an ambitious global effort to combat global warming and climate change. It’s an agreement between nations and countries to make policies and mandate laws to achieve climate neutrality by the mid-21st century.
The goal of the Paris Agreement is to keep global warming to no more than 1.50C, and for that, we need to reduce carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.
Just after a year of its adoption back in 2016, the concept of “net-zero” and carbon neutrality has grown immensely, with everyone talking about “net-zero home renovations.”
The Need for Net Zero
Since humans began to burn fossil fuels, the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased dramatically. So, there’s a scientific consensus that the earth’s temperature is reaching record-high levels resulting in climate change.
It’s now a proven scientific fact that our planet is about 1.10C warmer than it was in the late 1800s. If such emissions continue to rise across all regions, we can have increased heat waves and shorter cold and longer warm seasons.
Our homes use a lot of energy, be it electricity, or natural gas, for water heating, clothes drying, and cooking. Parallel to this, we waste a lot of energy because of poorly insulated walls, thin-glazed windows, and draughty doors.
As per Energy Information Agency (EIA), an average American home uses 10,715 kWh of electricity per year, which makes around 1,223 W per day. Such energy use accounts for about 20% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United States.
As per the data from the U.S. Department of Energy, residential buildings in the United States release, on average, 8.7 tons of carbon dioxide per household every year. That’s around 70% more than the average passenger car. According to EPA, greenhouse gas emissions from our homes and businesses have increased by 2% since the 1990s.
So, the trend and study of greenhouse gas emissions from residential use depict that in order to achieve Paris Agreement by 2050, we need a broad portfolio of zero-emission energy solutions. Along with decarbonizing electricity production, we also have to reduce floor space, incorporate behavioural changes with housing preferences, and increase the density of low-carbon communities.
Net-zero - The way forward
Realizing the need to reduce their carbon footprint, a lot of homeowners are encouraged to adopt energy-conservation retrofits. If you just insulate your walls and ceilings with thick layers and seal your house with an airtight layer, you can significantly reduce your energy consumption. You can also replace your appliances running on fossil fuels with the ones that run on electricity and offset the requirement by installing solar panels.
Such remodelling projects will not just improve the comfort and health of your family, but at the same time, they will lower operating expenses and improve our environmental impact. So, we can have filtered and cleaner air with reduced heating and cooling costs and enhanced comfort level inside – that’s even easier to maintain in the long run.
So, the concept of “Net-Zero” is not about making drastic changes in your lifestyle or giving up on your joys to reduce your carbon footprint. It’s an idea to flip the script in your favour and increase your joys of living a modern life.