Built by Design
There is an obvious need for the industry to be more energy efficient and pay more attention to the ways in which energy is used and wasted. With this May’s Government Energy White Paper addressing the ramifications of climate change and increasing energy efficiency, this question is especially pertinent. To accelerate the transition to a Iow carbon economy, urgent, ambitious action is required.
Government has made considerable progress ensuring its building design brief includes a stringent BREEAM requirement for achieving lower energy usage and carbon emissions. Now the industry must follow this lead, with perhaps incentives to build high value, low carbon buildings and achieve the tough targets.
Buildings tend to be unique and complex, designed and built by a fragmented, sometimes uncommunicative supply chain. So how do building owners, developers and the public perceive the construction industry and building professionals?
Are we seen as professional, using leading edge technology, solvers of building issues?
Do we provide building owners/users with:
- A low carbon, sustainable building – designed/built on time and to budget by integrated design teams including manufacturers.
- Simple solutions delivering effective water/energy savings – where functionality, performance, durability, style are of equal measure.
- Sustainable product design solutions, serviced/maintained over a building’s life.
- Safe, hygienic working environments.
- Buildings with low carbon emissions.
Manufacturers and design teams need to communicate better.
With the focus on the built solution rather than product offering, we must ensure design time is allocated to seek appropriate innovative product solutions – design time is often limited and done in a rush.
Frequently, traditional build solutions are used with their on-site issues of health and safety, skill shortages and build quality, because design time was restricted or manufacturers have not communicated new, innovative product solutions.
Taking time to get the right design elements is crucial.
With more water shortages and climate change impact in the headlines, water usage efficiency, and the appropriate products to avoid wastage, is now key:
- Daily, each UK person uses 150 litres of water.
- One dripping tap wastes 5,500 litres per year – enough water to fill a paddling pool every week throughout the summer.
- With current energy costs hot water is four to six times more expensive than cold (including heating, storage, maintenance, treatment), so savings here can be made.
Product solutions can help avoid such water wastage and improve efficient usage.
If we take a commercial office; a Tempostop time flow tap operated 40 times a day will each save 41 cubic meters of water yearly (40,800 litres or a three-month RoI), compared with a traditional monobloc basin tap. The newest generation of electronic basin taps/mixers delivers even greater water savings (up to 70%) and the benefits of a non-touch, total hygiene solution.
Today, many thermostatic shower valves now incorporate flow regulation at 8.5 to 9 litres per minute delivering high performance showers without water wastage. New aesthetic design solutions offer an off-site, pre-fabricated shower panel for simple installation and effective water utilisation.
Electronic basin taps/mixers now feature an anti-Legionella feature, where if not used for 24 hours, the tap operates for 45 seconds as a ‘duty flush’.
Buildings account for some 50% of UK carbon dioxide emissions. BREEAM’s environmental assessment initiative enables Government, the private sector and building owners/designers to enhance a building design’s environmental performance.
Alone, effective water management is not enough. But, it can make significant contributions to meeting BREEAM objectives by:
- Reducing energy and running costs
- Delivering a green building more attractive to potential clients/customers
- Providing a building performance management check list
- Creating better, healthier, working environments for staff and building users
Going back to my original questions our industry must:
- Encourage client brief to require low carbon, sustainable building design.
- Create multi-disciplinary partnership teams – including manufacturers – to develop innovative solutions meeting client brief.
- Allow time dedicated to building design, encourage wider participation in developing solutions.
- Effectively communicate built solution understanding to clients, facilities managers, commissioning and maintenance teams and building users.
- Monitor building performance throughout its life.
Given the right brief and budget, manufacturers can help deliver product solutions for low carbon, water/energy efficient and sustainable buildings with a safe, hygienic working environment for their users. Innovation is key, and design teams and manufacturers must continue product development with improved solutions based on experience and know-how.
Low carbon, energy efficient buildings are not built by chance, but by design.