Buildings contribute to a major share of energy use in the world and UK buildings are no exception. Architects are constantly designing buildings that will use less energy, and also help in reducing the fuel costs. There are numerous design ideas incorporated in buildings to help create more sustainable buildings for the future.
The construction of low energy buildings is of positive influence in UK. The buildings come with numerous benefits including reduced carbon emissions, the creation of more comfortable environments, and lower fuel bills. Good energy designs could help to reduce the bills and carbon emissions by about two-thirds. Using renewable energy on buildings can help them produce no net carbon. These designs will help to create a sustainable community, considering that in 2009, close to 43% of carbon emissions were from buildings.
The construction of low energy building incorporates passive techniques and active systems that help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions to create a sustainable environment. Passive techniques include the shape and the materials that are used to build the housing structure. On the other hand, active systems are those that utilize machinery to provide is services that reduce energy use in the building.
Low energy building designs are developed by engineers and architects to suit the climatic conditions in UK. The design systems aim to produce net zero greenhouse gas emissions. The buildings are retrofit with renewable energy technologies, and their construction entails the use of low carbon building material and methods.
One of the crucial things that architects and engineers consider in constructing low energy buildings is working with nature. The houses are built in a way that they can harness the energy from the sun during the colder months in United Kingdom, and in a way that they can avoid overheating during the hotter months (summer). This can be achieved by including thermal mass in the building and fitting it with an airtight insulation.
The buildings can incorporate a passive solar house that normally utilizes the sun’s energy to give the required space heating in a building. For buildings that have North-facing elevations, the design should consider maximum insulation and minimum gazing.
In a situation where the building site has a slope, the building is designed in a way that its North side is built into the slope. This enables it to be kept safe from the elements. This design allows for the constant temperature and thermal mass from the earth to balance the climate within the house.
Low energy building designs can also utilize the mass and glass approach. This design involves the fitting of a high level of thermal mass in the building within the passive solar design, to avoid heat loss at night.
The building’s walls can be built with concrete blocks, bricks, stones, and other similar materials. The floors as well are designed to use concrete floors. The materials utilized in such a building create a thermal mass which stores heat. This contributes to keeping the building warm during the night and cool during the day.
A building is considered sustainable if it considers the environmental impacts of the materials that it’s built in. Building sustainability should not just revolve around water and energy conservation. Designing a building with materials that use less energy is the ideal sustainable house in UK. Buildings are also fitted with renewable energy technology and solar panels to lower energy consumption.
Sustainable buildings are built in a manner that ensures the living room is warm and has enough lighting. This implies that they should be South-facing. Also, equipment such as the kitchen cooker is situated against a solid wall in the house so that the warmth it emits can be stored within the wall. This design ensures the heat from the cooker is not lost to the outside.
Eco homes also utilize either passive or powered controlled ventilation. Ventilation ensures that the building’s temperature is comfortable, as well as preventing dampness within the building; creating a healthy environment.
The passive ventilation system is well designed and utilizes plastic ducts which have to be fit in an almost vertical position. This design controls humidity by using the principle that warm air rises. The ventilation is strategically placed to remove the damp air.
On the other hand, powered ventilation is mechanical, and has heat recovery. It, however, costs more to install and requires a continuous power supply. It also has a plate heat exchanger that usually controls air quality in the cooler months.
Low energy houses have a design, building materials, and renewable technologies that use less energy. Sustainable building designs in UK either use passive solar, or active system design techniques to minimize the buildings’ energy expenses.