New buildings and renewable technologies
It is without question that we need to make buildings more energy efficient. Public awareness and new government legislation have all added weight to the argument for energy saving and sustainability. One such piece of legislation calls for all new builds from 2016 to be zero carbon in construction.
In this article I will outline the main renewable technologies currently available for all new residential and commercial buildings and then go on to outline a simple 3 step process to assess their viability as not all buildings are the same and there is simply not a one size fits all approach.
The most common forms of renewable technology which can be incorporated in building are:
1. Wind turbines for electricity generation
2. Ground source heating for water heating and heat transfer
3. Solar heating for water heating and heat transfer
4. Air source heating for heat transfer
5. Combined heat and power units for water heating and electricity generation
6. Photovoltaic cells for electricity generation
This then brings us to assessing the viability of renewable technologies in new builds. The first criteria is location. Where is the building located and where is it situated in relation to other buildings and its immediate environment? For example having tall buildings or tall tress nearby will effect which new technologies are possible. Wind turbines for example do not always work well in built up areas.
This the leads on to the second criteria - financial viability. If we take the example of wind turbines in built up areas again, you can imagine in such areas wind speeds may be far lower. This is turn means that the turbines may not be able to generate enough energy to make the installation pay for itself, or indeed enough to provide power for the building. You must then ask the question is it too expensive to install the technology in relation to a specific payback period?
The final criteria is whether or not there are any rules or restrictions as to what renewable energy technologies can be incorporated. To use the example of wind turbines again it may be necessary to request planning approval if you wish to use turbines of a certain height in your locality. Or is you are looking to retrofit an existing building there may be restrictions if it is located in an area of conservation or whether the building itself is protected, such as having listed building status. In either case obtaining permission may be problematic.
For those interested in making use of renewable technologies in future building projects, or even in their current home of office, there are plenty of organisations that are able to help you do just this. In many cases you will be able to apply for a grant or interest free loan to help you afford the installation. In the UK organisations such as the Carbon Trust, The Renewable Energy Centre and the Energy Savings Trust all give readily available advice and information on this.
- Residential Architects
Learn more about residential and zero carbon projects from Simon Foote Architects.
- Energy Saving Trust - Energy Efficiency & Energy Conservation to combat Climate Change.
Find out how you can be more energy efficient in your home, save money on your energy bills and get information on saving water and reducing household waste with the Energy Saving Trust.
- Energy Saving Grants
Useful resources for obtaining grants in the UK, Home energy grants, Commercial renewables enhanced capital allowances, lottery funding.
- Carbon Trust Home
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