Designing Energy Efficient Buildings to meet Climate Emergency Goals

Roof mounted photovoltaic panels

In November last year, over 11,000 scientists declared a climate emergency, putting pressure on countries around the world to reduce impact on global warming. In the UK, almost half of all greenhouse gas emissions come from generating heat for homes, offices and public buildings (DECC, 2010). So, with the government’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gases to net zero by 2050, reducing wasteful consumption of fossil fuels has to be a top priority for us all.

The biggest opportunity to reduce wasted heat is by improving existing homes, which will account for over two-thirds of total housing stock in 2050 (BERR, 2007). It is possible to reduce energy in existing houses with carefully designed insulation and heat exchange. In fact, as design engineers working with UCL, the Sustainable Energy Academy and Camden Council in 2008, we managed to reduce carbon emissions by more than 80% in a semi-detached Victorian terrace house.

For most of us, the main obstacle to putting energy efficiency measures in place is the cost. Mandatory requirements are limited, except for requirements such as Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) in new homes and commercial offices and the government’s plans, announced last year, to ban gas boilers from all new homes in 2025.

For those of us who want to make a difference, we can make dramatic savings with insulation, solar and Photovoltaic (PV) panels, air-source and ground-source heat pumps. We can model and forecast the length of time it takes to pay back the initial cost of each of these. Sustainable buildings are cheaper to run, so today’s investment usually pays back in financial terms as well as reducing the cost to the planet.

To find out more about energy saving, contact simon@gbuild.co.uk or call us on 01992 552 111.

Article by Simon Green, Director, Green Building Design Consultants Ltd.