Phil Marris looks at why architects need to become more involved in the selecting of heating and ventilation systems, to ensure a project’s sustainability.
Architecture as we know it has been forever altered in the face of climate change. Government incentives, changes in regulations and green-building measurement schemes such as BREEAM and LEED that means projects are facing increased pressure to fulfil environmental, social and economic requirements – resulting in a need for low-energy, sustainable buildings.
Through rapidly growing public interest in BREEAM benchmark standards – with high scoring assessments increasing property and rental value – clients are now demanding low-energy buildings in both performance and design. Additionally, to reach the UK’s target of an 80% reduction in C02 emissions by 2050, the government has introduced several incentive schemes, one example being the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).
Buildings are responsible for around 48% of the UK’s C02 emissions and Building Regulations have also been closely reviewed, with Part L – referring to thermal efficiency standards of a project – requiring all new domestic builds, extensions and renovations, to show a 25% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2016.
These considerations, along with many others a few, have resulted in architects now needing to consider the future-proofing of a project, the reduction of its energy consumption and how it can deliver comfort and well-being benefits to its occupants. To ensure the overall sustainability of a building meets these requirements, it is essential architects become even more involved with the design of heating and ventilation solutions to deliver optimal thermal comfort, with minimal energy consumption.
It’s good to know then, that radiator technology has advanced dramatically in recent years. The biggest area of improvement is in energy-efficiency with the introduction of Low-H₂0 heat emitters. These have less than 5% of the thermal mass of traditional radiators and operate with 90% less water running through them – meaning they buffer less heat and react at least three times faster to fluctuations in temperatures.
More recently, the introduction of Jaga’s unique Dynamic Boost Effect technology means Low-H₂0 radiators can perform efficiently at temperatures as low as 35˚C when twinned with renewable heat sources like heat pumps. The DBE unit is integrated with the Low-H20 heat exchanger and its thermal activators help to deliver the required room temperature up to nine times faster than a standard radiator. When compared to traditional heating systems, the use of DBE technology can dramatically reduce energy use and it means that a designer needn’t compromise on aesthetics when specifying an energy-efficient low temperature heating system.
Additionally, architects need to consider the maintenance of good IAQ in highly insulated and sealed buildings. A build up of CO2 – a key factor determining IAQ – can cause headaches, poor concentration, and lethargy which is best controlled by the installation of highly responsive, demand controlled (DCV) combined heating and ventilation solution. This type of system monitors environmental factors such as temperature, humidity and CO2 level and introduces fresh air pre-warmed if required, when and to the extent that is necessary. This creates a healthy environment without wasteful overheating or over ventilating.
As aesthetics are also proven to influence the comfort and well-being of a building’s occupants, it is important that the overall ‘look and feel’ of a building should still be thoroughly considered. The versatility in radiator design now available – from adaptable, trench heating systems, to low-profile freestanding radiators, to artistically inspired wall-mounted units – means that architects and interior designers not only have the heating technology to ensure greater sustainability, but can choose the aesthetics that best match their design concept
With the global spotlight focused on carbon emission reductions, clients are now expecting architects to create more environmentally sustainable buildings in both design and operation. To do so, architects must become even more involved in the design of heating and ventilation systems in order to ensure their designs are sustainable and long-term energy-efficient.