The production and upkeep of a skyscraper can contribute to the greenhouse effect. The skyscraper itself doesn’t emit greenhouse gases. According to about.com, it took 57,000 tons of steel to construct the frame of the Empire State Building. The Basic Oxygen Furnace, used in steel making, releases carbon monoxide, a weak greenhouse gas, which can lead to tropospheric ozone.
It takes energy to turn iron into steel, oil to power the machinery that builds the structure, and lots and lots of electricity to keep elevators and everything else running. All of these things involve burning fossil fuels which release greenhouse gases, e.g., CO2, into the environment.
Yes and no. Cities contribute the most to the world’s greenhouse gas emissions (about 70% according to the UN), even thought they only cover about 2% of the world’s land area. Partly, it’s because of the sheer number of people living in these condensed areas, and skyscrapers are a huge part of that. However, cities – according to the UN – also have the most potential in reducing the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, and work on this is already being done. One skyscraper in NYC – the Bank of America building – is one of the greenest skyscrapers in the world. Add farming to the skyscraper equation (garden rooftops), and you have added additional sustainablity.
A skyscraper’s height doesn’t change its environmental effect, which still breaks down into use and building. Larger buildings, in fact, may need more efficient and therefore more friendly utility systems.
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