Constructing zero-carbon buildings requires a 'holistic' approach
According to the EU energy performance of building directive, all new public buildings must be constructed with a near zero-energy consumption target by the end of 2018. All new buildings must meet this standard by 2020.
While this is an admirable aim, achieving it requires some careful planning and strategic thinking.
Speaking in an interview for Youris.com, Norberto Gonzalez, project partner and business developer at 1A Ingenieros, suggests that certain elements of the project need to be considered from the outset.
In addition to issues such as orientation, planners need to think about implementing solid wall insulation, what air conditioning systems to use and how energy efficient lighting systems are.
Mr Gonzalez is keen to point out the importance of these initial plans, as "the first design decisions will have a very high impact on energy efficiency".
He goes on to make the point that designers need to consider the district the building is standing on and how local energy resources can be put to best use.
There are multiple people involved in ensuring that a building is constructed within certain guidelines and it is crucial that all these parties agree on standards at the beginning of the project.
Jan Kaiser, research associate at the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP in Kassel, Germany, explains that "architects, engineers, project developer, building physicists ... have to agree on the desired performance of the building and how to reach the goal".
He suggests that a holistic approach is called for and Mr Kaiser insists it is most important for the project developer to have a good overall view of how the building will perform in terms of energy efficiency. That way, the best results can be achieved.
Because new buildings often involve using innovative products and technologies, designers need to also be good at persuading others involved in a project how these may be used to achieve the best results.
Posted by Paul Taylor