Globally, there is growing recognition of the importance of lowering building energy usage. This is because fossil fuels are required for a building’s full operation at a level comparable to that of other businesses.
Thus, using energy-efficient building practices during the construction and maintenance of structures would be essential to the development of sustainable cities in the future.
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What is an Energy Efficient Building?
A building that uses less energy to do the same task as one that consumes energy inefficiently is said to be energy efficient. Energy-efficient manufacturing facilities use less energy to make things, and energy-efficient buildings use less energy to heat, cool, and power appliances and electronics.
An energy-efficient structure maximizes comfort and efficiency while using the least amount of energy and resources.
Energy-efficient features should not simply be included at the operation stage of a building; all energy-efficiency initiatives should cover the building’s whole lifecycle, from pre-construction planning and construction to operation and demolition.
These structures serve people and the environment in many ways by maintaining full functionality while being energy-efficient.
One of the simplest and most economical methods to slow down global warming, lower consumer energy bills, and boost corporate competitiveness is through energy efficiency. Another essential element of decarbonization—achieving net-zero carbon dioxide emissions—is energy efficiency.
It ought to be considered while designing a building, choosing building materials, starting construction, and running the building. The initial step in constructing an energy-efficient building is to incorporate passive solar house design ideas throughout the design phase.
Throughout the building process, low-energy building supplies and energy-efficient construction machinery must be used. In terms of building operation, utilities for photovoltaic electricity, water heating, and other renewable energy systems must be incorporated into the building.
Typical Energy-Efficient Building Design
- Nearly Zero-Energy Passive Building Design
- Utilization of Low-Embodied Energy Building Materials
- Making Use of Energy-Saving Equipment
- Integration of Renewable Energy Technologies in Different Applications
1. Nearly Zero-Energy Passive Building Design
Before construction even starts, all solar passive solutions must be incorporated into the design of a nearly zero-energy passive building. Rainwater harvesting, daylighting of buildings, and passive solar heating and cooling are a few examples.
Although complicated design is not necessary for passive construction, it does require an understanding of solar geometry, the local temperature, and window technology. The climate should be taken into consideration when choosing passive solar design techniques.
Passive cooling systems like groundwater heat exchangers, solar refrigeration, and wall and roof cooling should be incorporated into a building when it’s hot and dry outside.
Passive heating designs, like Trombe walls, sunspaces, and air handling systems, should be used in the cold zones.
2. Utilization of Low-Embodied Energy Building Materials
For buildings to be energy-efficient and to lessen the effects of global warming, low-embodied energy materials must be used in their construction. The energy expended in the mining, manufacture, transportation, and administration of the building material is known as embodied energy.
Among the low-embodied energy building materials are wood, stabilized adobe blocks, fiber-reinforced bricks, fly ash bricks, and cement substitutes like slag, fly ash, and silica fume, which are primarily byproducts in factories.
The Middle East, Europe, the USA, the UK, and India are among the regions where contractors most frequently employ and gain popularity for these materials.
3. Making Use of Energy-Saving Equipment
This entails utilizing energy-saving appliances in a building to minimize energy use, like refrigerators, fans, air conditioners, and LED lighting. Because they require 75% less maintenance than conventional bulbs and are more durable than other bulbs, Energy Star-approved fluorescent bulbs are in high demand.
Furthermore, by automatically shutting off lights and preventing energy waste, a lighting control mechanism increases energy efficiency. Lastly, control room temperature and water heating with a thermoset.
4. Integration of Renewable Energy Technologies in Different Applications
Another strategy to lower energy use and the building’s carbon footprint is to integrate renewable energy systems.
Examples of renewable energy technology that can be installed in a building to lower operational energy usage are solar water heaters, small wind turbines for electricity generation, and solar photovoltaic power generation.
It is also possible to use additional renewable energy sources, including biomass, hydroelectricity, and biofuels. Photovoltaic panels and solar thermal collectors are appropriate for mounting on building facades and roofs.
Many benefits come with renewable energy, including long system life, cost-effectiveness, sustainability, and energy supply security. It also creates more jobs. For some nations, it also serves as a substitute for the very costly and imported conventional energies like coal, oil, gas, and nuclear fuel.
Key Features of an energy-efficient building
Commercial buildings with energy-efficient features have lower utility costs and higher net profitability. In addition to increasing occupancy rates and rentals, energy-efficient features help produce comfortable and healthful indoor environmental quality (IEQ).
The following are essential elements of an energy-efficient building design, along with the reasons behind their significance:
- Good Access to Public Transportation
- New Buildings Should Take Orientation to Nature in Account
- Take Advantage of Existing Buildings
- Design With Retrofitting In Mind
- Choose the Smallest Building Possible
- Meet Building Energy Efficiency Standards
- Use Adequate Insulation
- Select the Appropriate Windows
- Put Insulated Concrete to Use
- Install Solar Panels
- Select a High-Efficiency HVAC System
- Change Air Filters Regularly
- Clean Air Ducts
- Seal Air Leaks in HVAC Systems with a Sealant
- Install Vents in the Correct Locations
- Make Use of Programmable Thermostats
- Put in LED lighting
- Opt for Energy Star appliances
- Purchase Energy-Saving Water Heaters
- Select Appropriate Window Treatments
- Install Ceiling Fans
- Task Lighting
- Lights That Can Be Dimmed
1. Good Access to Public Transportation
As previously stated, lowering greenhouse gas emissions is one advantage of energy efficiency. Employees won’t need to rely on their cars to come to work if your facility is conveniently situated near public transit.
To lessen their dependency on automobiles that emit toxic gases into the environment, they can convert to using public transportation.
2. New Buildings Should Take Orientation to Nature in Account
If your building is new, you can better utilize sunlight by placing windows according to the orientation of your building. You would be able to save more on your utility expenses as a result of not having to rely on them as much throughout the day.
3. Take Advantage of Existing Buildings
Seek out an existing building and modify it to suit your needs rather than creating a brand-new one from scratch. This has the potential to save a significant amount of money on both the energy required to construct a brand-new building and the cost of building supplies.
4. Design With Retrofitting In Mind
As an alternative, if a new structure must be constructed, it should be designed with future retrofitting in mind. That way, instead of having to start from scratch yourself, if you ever decide to sell, someone else may buy it and have a solid basis to start on.
5. Choose the Smallest Building Possible
Avoid selecting a large building if one does not need one. You can develop a building that is much more energy efficient just by choosing a size that makes sense. Reducing the size of your facility can result in significant savings on construction and operating expenses since it will require fewer materials and energy to operate
6. Meet Building Energy Efficiency Standards
Many criteria are available to help gauge a building’s energy efficiency when it comes to energy-efficient construction.
You may guarantee that you will build a green, energy-efficient structure by making an effort to meet the requirements of Energy Start, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), and the International Green Construction Code (IGCC).
7. Use Adequate Insulation
One of the most important components of energy-efficient buildings is insulation. First, go for a green insulating material such as cellulose or polystyrene. Next, you should ensure that your building is fully insulated.
Hot or cold air departing the structure will not be an issue if it is properly insulated with a high-quality product. Your utility bills will go down as a result of this.
8. Select the Appropriate Windows
Additionally, the type of windows you employ has a significant impact. Low-emissivity windows with two or three panes can improve the building’s insulation and security.
By implementing these energy-saving measures, you may increase the overall energy efficiency of your building and reduce your power costs even further.
9. Put Insulated Concrete to Use
If you’re starting from scratch, using energy-efficient building materials is a smart choice. When combined with metal frames, modern building materials like insulated concrete forms help to produce a more robust and energy-efficient structure. It can offer additional insulation to easily resist severe weather.
10. Install Solar Panels
Using a sustainable energy source, such as solar panels, is another excellent choice for saving electricity and energy efficiency. With solar panels, you can cut your electricity expenditures by using fewer public or private utilities. Many cities and states also offer incentives for installing and using solar panels.
11. Select a High-Efficiency HVAC System
Arguably, the most important component of any building is the HVAC system. The building’s whole HVAC system is in charge of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. To ensure it is energy efficient and uses less power to operate, choose one with an Energy Star rating.
12. Change Air Filters Regularly
Make sure you replace the air filters regularly. Air filters accumulate dirt over time and become clogged. Your utility expenses will increase when your HVAC system has to work harder to heat or cool the building due to dirty filters.
13. Clean Air Ducts
You should also maintain the cleanliness of your air ducts. Maintaining the best possible condition for your HVAC system is essential, even if it should only be done when necessary. By doing so, you can extend its useful life and avoid serious problems or a breakdown.
14. Seal Air Leaks in HVAC Systems with a Sealant
Sealing air leaks is another crucial step in keeping a functioning HVAC system. Expert specialists automatically locate and plug leaks using equipment like Aeroseal.
Applying Aeroseal sealant will help keep hot and cold air from escaping, significantly improving your building’s energy efficiency.
15. Install Vents in the Correct Locations
For your HVAC system to function as efficiently as possible, vent location is also essential. Vents should be arranged thoughtfully in rooms and corridors, easily accessible for upkeep and cleaning, and sufficiently out of the way to prevent obstruction from paper, furniture, or window coverings
16. Make Use of Programmable Thermostats
Energy-efficient commercial buildings are made possible with programmable thermostats. They can be used to establish different temperatures during the day.
Your HVAC system and thermostat can be programmed to turn down the heat or air conditioning after work. Huge energy savings can result from taking this little action.
17. Put in LED lighting
Because they use roughly 50% less electricity than conventional light bulbs, last longer, perform better in cold weather, are less likely to break, turn on instantly, and are simple to combine with dimmers to increase energy efficiency, LED light bulbs have gained popularity for use in energy-efficient office buildings.
18. Opt for Energy Star appliances
Refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, and even dehumidifiers with an energy star rating are excellent for increasing the energy efficiency of buildings.
Because they consume significantly less energy to operate, these appliances immediately save you money. They can save between 10 and 30 percent of the energy used by non-Energy Star appliances on average.
19. Purchase Energy-Saving Water Heaters
Seven percent of the energy used in commercial buildings is used by water heaters. Therefore, using a water heater with great efficiency will help you save money.
Energy consumption and operational expenses can be greatly decreased using options like solar water heaters, heat pump water heaters, tankless systems, and systems with highly efficient water storage tanks.
20. Select Appropriate Window Treatments
The implementation of window treatments can yield a noteworthy impact on the energy efficiency of office buildings. You may regulate how much sunlight enters your building by using blinds or other effective window treatments.
You can leave them open in the winter to receive additional heat from the sun. You can close them in the summer to maintain a cooler environment. You’ll be able to use the HVAC system less as a result, which will save you money and energy.
21. Install Ceiling Fans
Having ceiling fans installed throughout the structure aids in the even distribution of hot and cold air. You are aware of what that implies. More savings for your company and less effort for your HVAC system.
22. Task Lighting
Invest in task lighting rather than illuminating the entire building, including empty spaces, as this can lead to increased energy and cost expenses.
When it comes to energy consumption, this will be far less than overhead lighting. Additionally, it gives employees flexibility over the illumination and is less taxing on their eyes.
23. Lights That Can Be Dimmed
Dimmable lights are a good option as an alternative, especially when combined with LED bulbs. With a lot of natural light during the day, you may use this to keep overhead lights dim and change them when they grow darker or cloudier.
Given that you will be using less electricity, having that kind of control also contributes to the construction of a more energy-efficient structure.
How Energy-Efficient Buildings Help the Environment
Greenhouse gases cause serious harm to the environment. Urban areas are searching for strategies to reduce the number of greenhouse gases they emit into the atmosphere.
To combat climate change, energy consumption must be reduced. This is because conventional power plants use fossil fuels, which produce greenhouse gases and worsen air pollution. Limiting the quantity of waste, carbon emissions, and air pollution your building produces is one way to achieve that.
To reduce the negative effects of the built environment on the environment, energy-efficient buildings are essential. Key environmental benefits include the following:
- Less carbon footprint: Buildings with higher energy efficiency use less energy, which lowers carbon dioxide emissions, a primary cause of climate change.
- Preservation of natural resources: Reducing energy use lessens dependency on fossil fuels, which contributes to the preservation of limited resources.
- Preservation of ecosystems: Energy-efficient buildings help to preserve natural habitats, biodiversity, and ecosystems by reducing pollution.
Creating a sustainable future and protecting our planet for future generations need the adoption of energy-efficient building practices.
Energy-efficient structures are also better suited to convert to renewable energy sources, which emit no pollution.
There are several advantages for building owners and the environment when it comes to energy-efficient structures. These structures provide long-term cost savings, improved indoor air quality, and lower energy use, making them a wise and profitable investment.
The use of energy-efficient building measures is expected to rise even further with government assistance and further technological advancements, paving the way for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future for all.
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A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.