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Environmental Impact Of A Housing Estate

990 words - 4 pages

Although residential buildings are considered by many as being beneficial for the well being of society, they have an extreme environmental footprint. The housing sector is one of the highest contributors to the degradation of the environment and the excessive global average consumption rate of energy, whether it be from electricity or from natural resources (Marshall & Shortle, 2005). In this assignment I will be discussing the energy and material inputs, and the waste outputs of such housing estates throughout their life cycle, and how these may have a direct or indirect impact on the environment.
There are a number of phases throughout the life cycle of a housing estate which determine the extent of its effects on the natural environment. The first step, which may have the most severe consequences, is the site location of the estate. Landscapes are generally rich in different types of interdependent ecosystems containing habitats for different species. However, in order for the houses to be constructed, land masses are required. Some times these natural lands, providing essential ecosystem services, give way to commencing development of the housing estate structure. Construction may also take place directly next or close by to such areas which are ecologically sensitive and have productive bio-diversities (Figure 1). These result in damaged or totally destroyed indigenous habitats while leaving the ones that remain fragmented (Figure 2). Species which are native to the destroyed environment will not be capable of surviving. Also, since the corridors between interconnected ecosystems would be lost, due to fragmentation, the species and the processes between ecosystems will eventually disappear, especially if non-indigenous or invasive species are introduced to the environment as they compete with the native species for their habitats and resources. Moreover, if the housing units are developed in a dispersed manner, they will have a greater impact on the environment, because of increased habitat fragmentation, than if they are a developed in a dense manner (Pejchar, Morgan, Caldwell, Palmer, & Daily, 2006).
Another aspect which is affecting the natural environment is the design and construction phase of the housing estate. For the houses to be constructed the materials have to be produced or manufactured. The raw materials first have to be extracted from a quarry, either by blasting techniques or by cutting, and then they have to pass through several processes including crushing, screening and dressing. The constant exploitation of these resources is causing a strain on the environment because they are not renewable. These all contribute to greenhouse gases, fine dust emissions and the CO2 by-product which end up in the atmosphere, due to the use of electrically powered equipment. The materials will then have to be transported to the construction site, in which the rate of CO2 emissions depends on the distance between the plant and the site,...

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