Energy use in buildings
Consumption of energy in the construction, operation, renovation and demolition of buildings accounts for half of UK energy use, and is an area in which technological developments and professonal expertise can make a major contribution to addressing environmental concerns. The Institution believes that energy use in both existing and new buildings should be provided in ways which optimise the efficiency of its usage and where practicable obtained from renewable resources.
The design of new builidngs should aim to minimise their whole life energy rating, within the constraints of financial and other objectives. This rating includes energy embodied in the construction materials used, the different forms of energy used in construction, operational and maintenance requirements, and refurbishment and demolition.
Inter-disciplinary design should be encouraged. Holistic design of buildings will produce cumulative improvements in energy use. Architects, structural engineers, building services engineers and facade designers should work together to this common purpose. Only by discussing the integration of complex building systems can an optimal solution be reached.
The use of passive solar design, heat exchangers and other techniques should be developed, to reduce energy used in heating and cooling. Developments in materials technology, and particularly in glass manufacture, should be exploited to reduce artificial heating and lighting requirements.
Incentives will be needed to encourage design and construction of energy- efficient buildings. Regulatory measures such as amendments to building regulations may be partially effective, although framing effective incentives will ultimately depend upon the alignment of commercial risk and reward.
Specifiers and designers should be encouraged to apply the principles of whole life costing in evaluating and using new, recycled and alternative construction materials. In doing so, they should take account of the sourcing and transportation energy of the materials supplied and of the energy used in disposal.
The existing building stock
Most of the building stock of the future has already been built. Improvements to this existing stock, including insulation to reduce heat loss and more efficient heating systems, should be a key priority.
Developments and incentives to carry out improvements should include financial incentives by the government to encourage investment in insulation by owners of poor quality housing stock; the recent decision to reduce VAT on insulation is a welcome step in this direction. Developments in glass manufacture have greatly improved the ability of windows to retain or deflect heat and this should be exploited.