Last edited 24 Jun 2021

Energy efficiency of buildings


[edit] Introduction

Energy efficiency is the utilisation of less energy to provide the same service.

Increasing energy efficiency not only allows individuals and organisations to reduce their capital and operational costs, is can also help lower fuel consumption and so reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and help prevent climate change.

There are a great number of ways in which energy efficiency can be improved:

[edit] The built environment

The Climate Change Act was introduced in the UK in 2008, creating a long-term, legally-binding framework for tackling climate change. It set a target of reducing carbon emissions by 80% compared to 1990 levels by 2050, with a reduction of at least 34% by 2020.

The built environment accounts for 45% of total UK carbon emissions (27% from domestic buildings and 18% from non-domestic). For this reason, the built environment is a key part of the UK’s drive for energy efficiency.

[edit] New buildings

The building regulations set minimum standards for the performance of buildings, with Part L specifically regulating the conservation of fuel and power. The building regulations are increasingly strict, with a long-term goal under the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive to move towards ‘nearly zero energy buildings’.

Key criterion described in Approved Document L include:

Higher standards can be achieved through schemes such as BREEAM, Passivhaus, the Code for Sustainable Homes, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and so on.

However, there is significant evidence to suggest that buildings do not perform as well when they are completed as was anticipated when they were being designed. The difference between anticipated and actual performance is known as the performance gap. Findings from studies over the last 20 years have revealed that actual energy consumption in buildings is often twice as much as predicted and can be up to 5 times higher than calculations carried out for building regulations compliance.

[edit] Existing buildings

It is expected that almost 90% of the existing building stock in the UK will still be in use in 2050, and so there is considerable focus on what can be done to improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings:

In 2015, the government commissioned Dr Peter Bonfield to undertake an independent review of consumer advice, protection, standards and enforcement for UK home energy efficiency and renewable energy measures. The review is anticipated to be published in March 2016.

[edit] ESOS: Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme

The ESOS Regulations 2014 implement Article 8 of the EU Energy Efficiency Directive and they require that all large businesses in the UK undertake detailed assessments of energy use and energy efficiency opportunities at least once every four years.

[edit] Energy performance certificates

The Energy Performance of Buildings (England and Wales) Regulations 2012 require that energy performance certificates (EPC's) are produced for certain dwellings and non dwellings. EPC's set out the energy efficiency rating of buildings. They are required when buildings are built, sold or rented, if they have a roof and walls and use energy to condition an indoor climate.

[edit] Information sources

[edit] Other definitions

The Energy White Paper, Powering our Net Zero Future (CP 337), published in December 2020 by HM Government, defines energy efficiency as: ‘When something performs better using the same amount of energy, or delivers the same performance for less. The principle of energy efficiency can be applied to many things: buildings, products, appliances, manufacturing processes, to name a few.'

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki.

[edit] External references

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