‘Cars should be banned from near schools due to air pollution’

‘Cars should be banned from near schools due to air pollution’

What about emissions from the Built Environment?

Air pollution is being described as the biggest environmental threat to health in the UK according to Public Health Chiefs, in a recent BBC article. There is now a call for cars to be banned near schools to minimise pollution and improve air quality for the younger generation. Although a very important and pressing issue that does need to recognised, emissions from our buildings, both residential and commercial, should also be considered crucial in the drive to reduce emissions.

The department for Business, Energy and Industry (BEIS) has recently released statistics for UK Greenhouse has emissions, of which transport accounted for 27%. However, when combined, businesses, residential, and energy use emissions accounted for 56%. These figures show that our buildings, both existing, and new build, have the capacity to greatly improve UK emissions and subsequently, health and wellbeing. 

Building Regulations now mean tight restrictions on the fabric, lighting, and building services but our expert consultants have some tips for those designing or constructing new build residential and commercial buildings, or completing extension or retrofit projects on existing buildings. These tips do not just relate to achieving and surpassing building regulation compliance, and reducing energy, but also ensuring occupant health and wellbeing.

Tip 1 – Air tightness is important but ventilation even more so

Over the past few revisions of the building regulations, air tightness has been a key focus, driving the figure down to make our buildings as air tight and, therefore, as energy efficient as possible. However, as our expert consultants will advise you, with very good air tightness comes the potential for damp and poor indoor air quality, if buildings are not ventilated properly. Architects, self-builders and construction companies should therefore be considering adding adequate mechanical ventilation into buildings, alongside making use of any natural ventilation or cross ventilation. This helps to ensure the circulation of air remains constant inside the building, without compromising the energy performance of the external structure.

Tip 2 For most months of the year, we are lucky enough to have many hours of natural light so why not make the most of it?

It is now well known that LED lighting is becoming increasingly efficient for lighting our built environment, and as such, there has been, and continues to be, a big move away from traditional lighting. LED lighting has a much higher lumens per circuit watt that other artificial lights, creates a lot less heat that traditional tungsten lighting, and most importantly, when trying to comply with building regulations, LED lighting performs well in the SAP software.

However, building regulations will continue to tighten and LED lighting may not even be enough to ensure compliance so our consultants recommend making the most out of any opportunities for natural lighting to be designed into buildings. Roof lights, and windows, as long as thermally efficient and designed to minimise solar gain, allow natural light to be used, further minimising the energy use of the building, as well as being more tolerant to occupants than artificial lighting.

Tip 3 – Only use your bedroom to sleep in? Rather than having the heating running in there all day when you’re at work or downstairs, consider investing in local time and temperature controls

Many traditional properties, which have not needed to comply with the more recent building regulations, still heat their buildings in very traditional methods (e.g. a gas boiler with one central manual thermostat). However, as restrictions on energy use in the built environment tighten, architects designing new buildings, and occupants living in existing buildings, are looking for ways to minimise energy use but without compromising their comfort. One way to achieve this is local time and temperature controls, alongside optimum start/ stop and weather compensation. Local time and temperature controls allow you to set temperatures in individual rooms depending on the areas of the building in use (e.g. you only put your bedroom heating on just before you go to sleep). Optimum start/ stop means your heating/ cooling is set to start just in advance of arriving home, or just as you leave for work so it reaches optimum temperature at the time you need it. Weather compensation means your heating or cooling systems automatically adjust themselves to suit the outside temperature, providing a comfortable environment indoors.

Our expert consultants have many more tips on making the most out of designing your new building or retrofitting your existing one. To find out more, please call us on 01455 883 259 or email us at consultancy@elmhurstenergy.co.uk.

Article published 14th March 2019

Elmhurst Energy Services Ltd. 16, St Johns Business Park, Lutterworth, Leicestershire, LE17 4HB

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