The importance of proper building design and construction for energy efficiency

For those who work in the building design, energy or construction industries, it is most likely to already be on your radar just how important proper building design and construction are when it comes to energy efficiency. However, as time goes on, the importance is increasing along with the UK’s net zero goals.

It’s also no secret that the UK’s housing is among the oldest and most poorly insulated in Europe, with the majority of homes also depending on gas for heating. With the ever increasing energy prices for homeowners and landlords, along with the industry’s environmental impact, poor energy performance will often result in build design and construction companies coming under scrutiny. 

Here, we look at how building design, construction and energy efficiency can all coexist.


The benefits of energy efficient buildings

Ensuring that building design is as energy efficient as possible usually involves constructing or updating buildings that are able to get the most work out of the energy that is supplied to them, by taking steps to reduce energy and heat loss.

It isn’t just about new buildings – updating existing buildings to be energy efficient is just as important. Retrofitting existing buildings in Europe with better insulation could save double the amount of carbon dioxide that France emits in one year.

Energy efficient homes in particular, whether they are renovated to be more efficient or are newly built to be energy efficient, have numerous benefits. For example:

  • Less expensive to operate
  • More comfortable to live in
  • More environmentally friendly

Many people in the building design and construction industries argue that updating existing buildings has a far greater impact on energy efficiency than constructing new builds. Why? Because if insulation (such as stone wool products) were used to save energy as opposed to generating more renewable energy, upwards of €22 billion would be saved.


How to make buildings more energy efficient


1. Increase natural lighting

Adding skylights to buildings is a go-to for many building designers to improve access to natural lighting, along with installing south-facing windows to increase indoor lighting without added glare. Building designers and those constructing new builds are also increasingly adding many natural-light-enhancing features to commercial structures, as a means to decreasing energy waste. 


2. Build upwards instead of outwards

A key to improving buildings to make them more energy efficient is to use space optimisation techniques. Building upwards as opposed to outwards has a positive impact not only on material waste, but also on the amount of electricity being used. This also improves HVAC efficiency, as it minimises the impact made by outdoor temperatures. Put simply, building upwards is an effective way to reduce energy loss and conserve natural spaces surrounding buildings.


3. Consider all possible weather conditions

Depending on where your building is, it is important to consider the regular weather conditions as well as the possible weather conditions. Installing revolving doors in commercial buildings is often a go-to for building designers, as it improves energy efficiency, along with bordering door and window frames with weatherstripping to create a barrier between indoor and outdoor temperatures.


4. Install smart thermostats and lighting

One of the most sought-after additions to buildings is autonomous thermostats, as they are able to connect to conventional HVAC systems, which helps to maintain energy-efficient indoor temperatures. Smart thermostats use natural weather patterns to support indoor temperatures, which creates a huge reduction in HVAC energy consumption. Not only can they turn a HVAC system off completely in an empty building, but they can also connect to a facilities manager’s smartphone, enabling them to control indoor temperatures remotely. The same can be said for smart lighting, using motion sensors to control lighting in buildings.


Get in touch

If your organisation is currently hiring building design, construction or facilities management professionals, get in touch with the expert recruitment team at PRS.

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