The built environment is currently estimated to be responsible for around 40% of global carbon emissions. As practicing building surveyors and architectural designers, we are serious about our responsibility to embed sustainability considerations into the way we work. We are always on the lookout for new technologies that will provide sustainable solutions and build resilience for our clients.
We work closely with M&E consultants from the early stages of the design process to ensure that renewable energy options are explored, and future temperature rises are accounted for. This ensures that we create well ventilated, comfortable spaces for our clients.
We currently have a number of funding applications in place, which feature the replacement of fossil fuel with more sustainable systems, such as air source heat pumps, and electric heating, combined with solar PV panel installations. These are carefully designed to avoid high energy bills and carbon emissions, and also support clients’ aims for sustainability and future resilience.
Renewable energy options are systems like air source heat pumps (ASHP), which work much like a refrigerator in reverse, are designed to absorb heat and then transfer it to another medium. They are especially suited to under floor heating, providing evenly distributed, constant heat at low temperature. We find ASHP are best suited to new building projects, where it is possible to install under floor heating systems along with high-performance insulation.
Where buildings are older, have poorer insulation, and ASHP could not meet all of the heating requirements effectively, a different strategy needs to be employed. This is when we look at bivalent systems – heating systems that feature ASHP, plus a backup oil boiler, that can boost heating on very cold winter days.
With rising electricity costs, our aim is also to get the best value for money and reduce energy costs for our clients, so we often recommend the installation of solar PV panels to cover the additional electricity usage by ASHP.
Helping our clients to make informed decisions to achieve energy efficiency and reduce their carbon emissions, is a central part of our professional service. What is also important, is our ability to tailor this to their buildings. A recent example of this can be seen at Landford school, where solar film was applied to west facing windows, and solar PV panels installed on the roof, all to support the electric heating of the school and reduce energy costs and emissions.
We currently have a new project at the planning stage, with the aim of replacing an old, temporary timber structure, with a brand-new building, which will need to achieve BREEAM ‘good’ as part of the local Council’s planning conditions. BREEAM stands for Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method and is the world’s first sustainability rating scheme for the built environment.
We believe that the use of renewable energy options and schemes like BREEAM will ensure the continued strong focus on sustainability in building design, construction and use, and ultimately create better buildings in which people can live, learn, gather and work.