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Creating buildings fit for the future

How decisions at the planning stage can help you create an energy efficient building fit for the 21st century

Around 40% of the EU’s energy consumption and CO2 emissions come from energy used in buildings. By 2025, a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions is sought by the UK government. Here’s why efficient decisions at the planning stage will make or break your building’s energy rating.

Buildings need to be energy efficient

Energy efficiency is increasingly at the core of everything we do: from eliminating unnecessary waste, recycling the materials we use, reducing the energy we consume, and lowering our energy bills.

The energy sectors of manufacturing, agriculture and transport are major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.  So is the way in which we heat our buildings.

Greener buildings

Whether proposing a new development or refurbishment works for an existing building, the final design has to prove that it is environmentally responsible and resource efficient throughout its lifetime – a greener solution.

Project pressures

Constraints on construction budgets, time on site, increasing labour costs and the quality of design specification are major causes of ‘scope creep’: uncontrolled changes or deviation from a project’s original scope. This occurs when the project’s scope is not clearly defined, agreed, documented and controlled. Scope creep can lead to budget overruns, delays and invariably rushed and incorrect decisions.

Unified approach

It is essential an achievable scope for any building project is established. Take a unified project team approach, with the collaboration of all decision-makers and specialists involved – the client, developers, designers and architects, suppliers, constructors and even system operators and maintainers.

Policies, such as the soft landings framework and the use of more recent methodologies, including Building Information Modelling (BIM), will help you learn the lessons and experiences of others, and then re-share your experiences.

Planning approvals

Local authorities’ planning policies and requirements are kept up to date with changes in climate change legislation. An energy strategy will provide solutions for compliance with the requirements of the Building Regulations Part L, which will need in order to obtain the necessary Energy Performance Certificate.

Designing for energy efficiency

Before deciding on the type and size of low or zero-carbon energy technology for a building, it is important to ensure that the building design starting point is optimised, so that the energy demand estimate is accurate.

Evaluation of design

It is important that a project team carries out detailed design review stages to determine and scope the project specification by:

  • Evaluating the concept.
  • Identifying and agreeing on best practices to be used.
  • Integrating system designs.
  • Optimising the performance of the selected low-carbon energy technology.

Project planning should start with an examination of the legislative requirements and the anticipated planning approval for the type of building. This should include an appraisal of the building’s location and how it responds to its surrounding environment.

A BREEAM pre-assessment carried out at this stage will establish the areas in which a building can be improved for sustainability, what rating is likely, and what future rating might be achieved by making the right design choices.

Want to know more? Contact us to find out how Centrica Business Solutions can help ensure your buildings are future proofed.