Cleaner energy production through renewable energy sources is only part of the work towards climate goals. The other part is reducing our energy consumption. As heating, cooling, and lighting are the main contributors to the life-cycle carbon emissions of a building, improving their energy efficiency during operations is essential to sustainable construction.
There is a lot we can do already during the design of building services to optimise their operational energy expenditure. For example, heating and cooling systems need to be calibrated correctly so that they work in sync and not against each other. Considerable energy savings are also available already through the correct dimensioning of units and fans for ventilation. Oversized equipment will require extra energy to run, whereas underestimating the needs of the system may cause it to overwork resulting in wasted energy and uneven performance.
Avoiding these all too common scenarios is considerably easier with the help of the rapid simulations and accurate calculations available in modern design software. When a system has been modelled in detail, we can, for example, estimate how much the pressure drop in an existing system increases if we would need to increase the flow by a certain percentage; how much more the cooling system needs to work during the summer months if we double the window size on a south-facing wall; or how we should modify the model if we need 10% more air or 20% more heat. Considering similar questions and comparing design alternatives can have a big impact on energy use during a building’s operations.
The energy-efficiency savings from good design can be further enhanced through various integrated systems, such as demand controlled operations and maintenance. This is how a focus on energy-efficiency that starts with design can carry through a building’s life-cycle and each small action contributes in turn to a more climate smart built environment.
Read more about energy-efficient design in our new white paper: Energy-efficient buildings for a sustainable future.