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Last edited 29 Jan 2020
Energy in the built environment
In very general terms, energy is a capacity to do work that can take a number of different forms, such as; thermal (heat), radiant (light), motion (kinetic), stored (potential), secondary (e.g. electricity), chemical, mechanical, and so on.
- Solar thermal energy: The conversion of solar radiation to thermal energy in order to heat a working fluid.
- Geothermal energy: The natural heat energy stored in the earth.
- Wind energy: Energy generated by the wind.
- Biomass: A generic term referring to organic materials that can be used as fuels.
- Hydropower: The generation of electricity from flowing water power.
For more information, see Renewable energy.
- Petroleum products: Formed from dead plants and animals. E.g. petrol, diesel, kerosene.
- Hydrocarbon gas liquids: Such as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
- Natural gas: Distributed through pipes from point of origin to point of use, e.g. mains gas.
- Coal: A combustible material mined from the ground.
- Nuclear energy: Released during nuclear fission or fusion in a power plant.
For more information, see Types of fuel.
According to the Technology Strategy Board, in the UK, the built environment accounts for 45% of total carbon emissions (27% from domestic buildings and 18% from non-domestic), and 73% of domestic emissions arise from space heating and the provision of hot water. The EU Directive on the energy performance of buildings was adopted in 2002. It was intended to improve the energy efficiency of buildings, reduce carbon emissions and reduce the impact of climate change.
Energy performance certificates (EPCs), 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. Buildings are rated from A to G on EPCs, with A representing a very efficient building and G a very inefficient building.
For more information, see Energy performance certificate.
The term 'embodied energy' relates to the energy consumed to create a building or a component of it, the energy consumed in refurbishing and maintaining it during its life, and the energy consumed in its ultimate disposal.
For more information see: Embodied energy.
- Battery energy storage systems with grid-connected solar photovoltaics BR 514.
- Battery storage.
- Carbon capture and storage.
- Community energy network.
- CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme.
- Creating a smarter, more flexible energy system.
- Domestic Retrofit training course.
- Domestic micro-generation.
- Dynamic response to energy.
- Electricity supply.
- Embodied energy.
- Emission rates.
- Energy Act.
- Energy consumption.
- Energy harvesting.
- Energy certificates.
- Energy related products regulations.
- Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme.
- Energy storage.
- Energy storage - the missing piece?
- Energy targets.
- Fuel cell.
- Ground energy options.
- ICE launches engineering route map to deliver UN SDGs.
- Performance gap.
- Renewable energy.
- Solar photovoltaics
- Solar thermal systems.
- Sustainable development: energy challenge.
- Target emission rate TER.
- The Future of Electricity in Domestic Buildings
- Tidal lagoon power.
- Types of fuel.
- Wind Energy in the United Kingdom.
 Definitions of primary energy
NB The Home Quality Mark One, Technical Manual SD239, England, Scotland & Wales, published by BRE in 2018 defines 'primary energy' as: 'Energy from fossil fuel and renewable sources that has not undergone any conversion or transformation process. Primary energy is transformed by the means of energy generation used and its transmission to the building.'
‘Climate Emergency Design Guide: How new buildings can meet UK climate change’, published by The London Energy Transformation Initiative (LETI) in January 2020 defines primary energy as: '...energy that has not undergone any conversion or transformation. As a common example, each kWh of grid electricity used in a UK building requires 1.5 kWh of primary energy; this accounts for the energy required for power generation (including fuel extraction and transport to thermal or nuclear power stations), transmission and distribution.'
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Climate change science.
- Earth overshoot day.
- Ecological impact assessment.
- Environmental legislation.
- Fossil fuel.
- Green building.
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
- Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design LEED.
- Not a choice between renewables and nuclear - we need both.
- The Carbon Plan: Delivering our low carbon future.
- Will we burn fossil fuels to power wind turbines in the future?
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