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We cannot wait for government to take a lead on sustainability, says Bob Arthur

This is a pivotal decade in meeting the requirements of the future, one in which we will need to halve our

carbon emissions with a growing population. It has been said: ‘We shape our buildings; thereafter, they shape us.’ Never has this been more relevant to how we build. We need robust systems, and these need to be demonstrable, as speed of communication will quickly expose compromise. Many of us think we just need to wait, and legislation will

move us in the direction we need to go. But our industries need to accept that government will not make all the decisions for us. We need to recognise the business opportunities that the

‘green agenda’ offers to generate a sustainable future. We should all be able to assume that, when we purchase a product, it comes from a sustainable source. Increasingly, companies are producing a position statement on ‘corporate responsibility and sustainability’ (CRS). These are rapidly replacing the old ‘corporate social responsibility’ statements. Having a CRS makes good business sense and can enhance image and reputation. And we do need to be sustainable. Current projections


Don’t let the drive for energy efficiency leave occupants hot and bothered – achieving comfort and efficiency is both desirable and possible, writes Martin Fahey of Mitsubishi Electric, sponsor of this column

The technical definition of indoor air quality (IAQ) is that

it should offer building occupants a pollutant-free, thermally comfortable and breathable environment. But most people can tell if a room is too hot, stuffy or draughty. The challenge is to reduce carbon emissions and energy use, while providing a healthy and comfortable environment. Rules on ventilation of domestic

suggest that, in the near future, we will need more resources than our one planet can support to sustain the population. It is said that 2015 is the tipping point for global temperature, so time is against us. However, we all own the problem, and we can help to manage global warming and CO2 emissions. Paul Morrell, the government’s chief construction adviser, spoke recently at a Marks and Spencer seminar. The final points he made are relevant here: we need a plan and a programme to deliver it; we need institutions that can look to the future; and we need to measure, to do, to measure, to do – and to keep going. As Morrell puts it, if money is king, then carbon is queen.

l BoB Arthur is chairman of the Federation of Environmental Trade Associations (FETA) and president of the British Refrigeration Association. He works for Marks and Spencer. This is an extract from his speech to a recent FETA event

It is clear that businesses will make the change on the green agenda, not consumers – history shows us this

and commercial buildings are covered by Part F (2010) of the Building Regulations. The legislation is prescriptive rather than descriptive, so designers can select from a number of technical solutions to find the right balance between comfort and efficiency. We are fortunate

to 30% on initial capital costs of heating and cooling plant, as well as giving excellent long-term lowered energy costs. The use of free cooling and heat

in the UK that our climate allows for use of ‘free cooling’, and this should always be the preferred option for most domestic properties. But for commercial buildings, their size, design and layout mean that some element of mechanical ventilation is often necessary. One technique that is becoming increasingly popular with designers is a ventilation system with heat recovery capability, because it offers good ventilation with excellent energy efficiency. By using already- cooled air to temper inputted fresh air, this system can reduce overall cooling loads by up to 20%. Heat recovery units reduce the

overall energy costs by extracting stale air from the building and recovering the heating or cooling energy to either warm or cool incoming fresh air. Using this method, a good heat recovery ventilation system can save up

We can no longer simply install more equipment or use more energy to address the needs of a “leaky” building

recovery are important approaches to creating energy efficient and comfortable living and working environments. These techniques embody the application of the energy hierarchy. First we need to reduce the need for building energy consumption with airtight construction, good insulation and efficient building materials. We should then identify and deploy energy efficient products and techniques (including heat recovery). This second

step can often be overlooked: but the choices of what solution

to install from new – or to offer as a replacement for existing systems – will have a major bearing on emissions generated from the building during its lifetime. Only once these steps are taken should low or zero carbon technologies be considered.

Manufacturers, designers, installers and building operators all need to take responsibility for identifying and using energy efficient methods. We can no longer simply install more equipment or use more energy to address the needs of a ‘leaky’ building.


June 2011 CIBSE Journal


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