With the emphasis throughout on delivering practical and applied information, each seminar was structured to provide key learning points, supported by case studies, analysis, and examples of best practice.
Britain has one of the lowest self-build levels in Europe, though it has increased to just over 10% of new homes over recent years. The new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) goes some way towards smoothing the process for self-builders looking to build a new home and there are now new models of delivering self-build at community level coming to fruition. Ecobuild highlighted some of the success stories (both new-build and refurbishment, large-scale community plot development and individual homes, exemplars from Europe as well as home-grown case studies) and asked how can a self-builder ensure that his sustainable new build or eco-renovation project is as cost-effective and energy efficient as it can be.
Improving the energy efficiency of all buildings is critical if the built environment is to make a significant contribution to cutting carbon emissions. Equally important is a low energy design approach for new-build. However, the performance gap persists (energy use is consistently higher than predicted). This stream tackled the interconnected issues of the performance gap; post-occupancy evaluation; building performance evaluation; and the Soft Landings programme which the Government is rolling out in 2016 to ensure that occupiers have an opportunity to fully understand how a building works in a “handover” period post commissioning.
It has long been recognised that limits to resources are and will be a major global challenge, exacerbated by population growth and increasing urbanisation. There are issues at all levels to be considered in terms of obtainable resources and their efficient and fair use. This seminar stream explored a range of approaches relating to resource stewardship in terms of water, waste and materials cycles which can contribute to achieving this goal as many of these are in the hands of built environment professionals and investors in both the private and public sector.
Our towns and cities are facing increasing impacts of climate change. By 2030 it is expected that over 90% of the UK’s population will be living urban lifestyles. How can our towns and cities become life enhancing habitats for all, rather than sources of environmental degradation? This seminar stream explored an integrated approach to delivering urban sustainability from city regions to local neighbourhoods, demonstrated throughout by case studies.
Passivhaus is a low energy standard that relies on an extremely efficient envelope to keep annual heat energy demand below 15kWh/m2 per year. It is a tried and tested approach that is becoming increasingly popular in the UK as Passivhaus buildings perform close to design predictions and are comfortable for occupiers too. Achieving Passivhaus certification relies on careful building design and forensic attention to detail during construction. This seminar stream examined why Passivhaus is a standard worth aiming for and the design and technical strategies needed to achieve it. The session also explored how Passivhaus interfaces with UK specific regulations and how it can be used on large projects.
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As building regulations drive down the amount of carbon generated from heating, cooling and lighting buildings, the carbon embodied in the materials from which these are constructed becomes more significant. Understanding what makes up the whole life carbon footprint of buildings is a complex subject. What are the relevant standards to apply? How should whole life carbon be measured so that like for like comparisons can be made? How do we design effectively for both construction and deconstruction? To what extent is design intent matched by achievable outcomes? How does user behaviour influence overall carbon use? Whole life carbon poses many questions and needs to be understood by all engaged with design in the built environment.
It is estimated that at least 70% of the UK’s housing stock likely to exist in 2050 has already been built. Three-quarters of these existing dwellings were built before 1975 with 25% built before 1919. Furthermore 65% of houses are owner-occupied. Buildings emit 44% of the UK’s entire greenhouse gases with 27% coming from homes and 17% from other buildings. The Climate Change Act required that an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases on 1990 levels is achieved by 2050 with 30% achieved by 2020. The EU 2050 Building Sector targets require an 88-91% reduction on 1990 levels by 2050. The only way these targets can be met is by refurbishing and retrofitting buildings on an individual, neighbourhood and city wide scale.
Cutting carbon emissions from commercial buildings is a particular challenge because of the business model applicable to this sector. Traditionally landlords have been reluctant to invest in more sustainable buildings because of perceptions there is no uplift in residual or rental values and tenants have been reluctant to pay more for a greener building. The picture is slowly changing. CSR is creating a market for green commercial property and occupiers are increasingly specifying a minimum environmental assessment rating. Landlords and occupiers are adapting a more long term approach to built environment assets and are increasingly collaborating with green leases to cut energy use. These seminars provided research results and emerging practice to better inform decision makers.
Every design decision has an impact on how sustainable a building is – both in terms of embodied energy and the operational energy required to run the building. This stream looked at how sustainability impacts design choices by examining:
Energy regulations have got progressively tougher in response to European and UK government targets. The EU’s non negotiable Energy Performance of Buildings Directive requires all new buildings to be nearly zero carbon from 2020, in response the UK government has proposed zero carbon standards for all new houses by 2016 and all new non-domestic buildings by 2019. The Climate Change Act (2008) requires an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases on 1990 levels by 2050 with 30% achieved by 2020. Refurbishing and retrofitting existing buildings will also contribute to achieving these aims. Part L is the key vehicle for implementing the energy and carbon reduction targets for new build and the refurbishment of existing buildings through a requirement for consequential improvements. In economic terms, it has been estimated that the benefits of improving the energy performance of our buildings outweigh the costs by a factor of 2. Meanwhile the government is promoting the ‘Red Tape challenge’ to reduce the regulatory burden. This stream will look at the key issues for new build and retrofit and; the impact of consequential improvements and allowable solutions.
The readjustment of the FiT demonstrates how Government policy impacts market conditions and consumer choice. The Green energy seminar stream examined the Energy Bill and unravelled incentives for power and heat generation.
Covering micro generation to community and small to medium-scale commercial green energy projects, this series of seminars also provided technology updates and covered some of the practical and technical issues relating to specifying and installing specific green technologies. Exemplary case studies across the spectrum of project sizes and building/ location type highlight new technologies and best practice pointers.
All publicly funded projects must operate at Level 2 BIM by 2016, and most privately funded projects are expected to follow suit. “This information model can be used to inform the decision-making process and answer questions throughout the entire project lifecycle. One BIM input can give us many valuable outputs. In order for this process to be effectively implemented, however, it needs to be undertaken in a truly collaborative environment (with iterative feedback loops), and here lies the real challenge.” David Philp, Head of BIM Implementation, Cabinet Office.