Built Environment Sustainability
Sustainability is becoming an issue of increasing importance. In Wales, there is commitment to make this a central guiding principle for all public sector organisations. This will therefore help to drive change in the private sector, especially relating to procurement. For all organisations, understanding the issues can lead to cost savings, increased competitiveness and (in the case of the private sector) the ability to secure more public sector work. However some view sustainability as confusing and difficult to understand.
There can be a significant difference between the design performance of a building and the actual measured energy consumption.
At European and National levels, policy targets have been set to decarbonise the built environment. In many cases practices respond to this requirement by topping up conventional projects with ‘low carbon’ solutions and off-the-shelf technologies. However, realising low/zero carbon buildings requires a thoughtful and informed approach to design and the incorporation of overarching principles throughout this process.
A substantial body of research and literature has been produced in UK in the last 10 years regarding the performance properties and environmental advantages of the use of local timber as a building material. However, to date, experts on the subject have struggled in disseminating this knowledge effectively to the built environment industry. In particular the challenge has been in overcoming the myths that surround the effective use of UK grown timber in the building industry.
Building envelopes have traditionally held a passive role in energy conservation. However, with new technologies and materials this passive role can be transformed into an active one. The Transpired Solar Collector (TSC) is a new technology that turns the building envelope into a solar energy capturing component, contributing to the heating of the building through mechanical ventilation in an efficiently controlled process.
Modelling software has typically been focused on single or small numbers of buildings and has been used at an advanced stage of the design. However, an early understanding of the future performance of a whole site or neighbourhood is both powerful and critical in low-carbon design. With this objective in mind, the Virvil software tool has been developed by the Welsh School of Architecture.