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Building shape linked to energy consumption


Energy demand in new homes could be halved if there is more focus on the shape and form of new housing, according to an NHBC Foundation report.

Current building regulations methodology does not consider shape when demonstrating energy and carbon compliance, and there has been little incentive for designers to use this as part of their low-energy strategies, says the report.

The challenge of shape and form: Understanding the benefits of efficient design shows that for the same floor area, the most efficient forms of housing, such as mid-floor apartments, may have less than half the energy demand of the least efficient forms, including detached homes and bungalows. According to the report, further improvements in energy efficiency can be demonstrated for simply shaped buildings, for example rectangular rather than “L” or “T” shaped).

The study also shows that a consideration of shape and form can deliver energy efficiency without any increase in the cost of homes.

“Whilst further improvements to the energy efficiency standards of building regulations have been paused for the time being, the challenge of climate change will not go away,” said NHBC’s head of research and innovation Neil Smith.

“This report provides a useful insight into an approach which starts by considering the inherent efficiency of good shape and form before adding the fabric insulation and efficient services that area also needed.”

The NHBC Foundation was established in 2006 to deliver research and guidance to help the house-building industry address the challenges of delivering new homes.


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