Energy in Buildings

Published on Thursday, 15 March 2012 11:05
Written by Vicky Kenrick

Buildings are responsible for almost 50% of the UK’s energy consumption and carbon emissions. The ways in which we light, heat and use our 25 million buildings all contribute to this.Even small improvements to the energy performance and the way we use our buildings could have a significant effect on reducing this consumption

The UK Government launch the Green Deal in the autumn which aims to help both businesses and householders by offering approved loans equal to the amount of energy it is estimated they will save.  The scheme is predicted to support an estimated 65,000 jobs by 2015.  The Green Deal joins a growing government sustainability portfolio which includes; EU Emissions Trading System, The Climate Change Levy, Climate Change Agreements and the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme; all of which contribute to an increase in energy job opportunities.

Low Carbon Design

As well as managing the energy within an existing building there are also new and innovative opportunities at planning and design stage.  More and more flagship buildings are being designed to a low carbon, energy efficient specification; The Guardian building in Kings Cross, which is built over the canals to incorporate the water within the building’s air conditioning system; The RES Group who’s award-winning site Beaufort Court in Hertfordshire incorporates on-site renewable heat and power installations including; a wind turbine, solar panels, biomass crops, underground heat store and natural groundwater cooling system;  and London’s newest green building the ‘Crystal’,  a landmark green building showcasing the latest energy efficiency technologies from around the world and acting as a knowledge hub for sustainable urban engineering.

Shaped like a crystal, the building will open this summer at Royal Victoria Docks, close to the Olympic Park. The £30 million building has been described as "a flagship" for the Mayor of London’s planned Green Enterprise District – 48km2 of land stretching across six East London boroughs intended to position the capital as a centre for low carbon business.

Crystal will be the prime example of an energy efficient building for many businesses around the world, containing office space for over 100 desks for professionals to share knowledge and collaborate on sustainable city projects, but it will principally be a visitor attraction showcasing the best in the world’s technological advances in urban sustainability. Key technologies utilised in the green landmark include; high performance glazing across the entire façade of the 7,000 square metre building, 1,580 efficient crystalline photovoltaic panels on the roof, energy efficient lighting and smart metering, rainwater harvesting, water efficient appliances and ground source heat pumps.

The new green technologies implemented in the Crystal, The Guardian HQ and RES Group’s Beaufort Court will help inform future sustainable design and improve the overall energy efficiency of modern architecture.  Projects such as these give a strong message to commercial business to embed energy efficiency and low carbon design into their growth strategies.

Retrofit Energy Saving

There is also huge potential for energy efficiency in buildings which have already been built without the benefit of good sustainable design.  The energy saving potential for existing buildings through retrofitting is 15-30% and the UK building retrofit market is expected to increase from a £200 to £500 billion industry over the next 40 years, according to the Institute for Sustainability. 

The new established Energy Efficiency Deployment Office (EEDO) has been set up to drive a step change in energy efficiency.   The EEDO is in the process of developing the Government’s energy efficiency strategy (to be published by the end of 2012), including indentifying further potential for energy efficiency and the implementation of efficiency initiatives.   

One of these initiatives is ‘The BIG Energy Upgrade Programme’ launched earlier this year, which is a large scale project to deliver the installation of energy efficiency measures and renewable energy to houses in Yorkshire and the Humber.  The evidence derived from these retrofit installations will support the activities of the EEDO and hopefully see the roll-out of nationwide schemes.

Overall, the increased push by Government and business to improve their energy efficiencies will lead to a direct increase in career opportunities within the built environment and energy jobs market, including; Planners, Architects, Engineers, Energy Managers and Facilities Managers.

Allen & York have over 18 years experience within Energy recruitment, specialising in Energy in Buildings & FM, Carbon Management, Climate Change and Energy Policy.

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