Ideal opportunity for a clean start
New build has been estimated to represent only around 1.5% of the UK building stock each year. However, buildings experience a number of refurbishments throughout their life, with a major refurbishment every 20 to 30 years. These refurbishments represent an opportunity to reduce carbon emissions through refreshing a building’s fabric and services equipment. Refurbishment offers a perfect opportunity to mitigate the effects of climate change by installing technology to help reduce the carbon footprint of a building. And you don’t have to take on high risk or unproven technologies in order to complete a low carbon refurbishment.
The key to success in most projects is a corporate commitment to cutting emissions, coupled with excellent project management to ensure this is translated into effective action at every stage.
The stated mission of the Carbon Trust is to accelerate the move to a sustainable, low carbon economy. In its guide, ‘Low Carbon Refurbishment of Buildings’, the Trust says: “It is estimated that 60% of the buildings that will be standing in 2050 have already been built.
“Although there has been much recent focus on measures to reduce the emissions from new buildings, the existing building stock remains largely untouched and many refurbishment projects miss opportunities to reduce emissions and deliver low carbon buildings.”
Later, it says: “Nearly all refurbishments offer opportunities to reduce carbon emissions beyond the standards set by building regulations.
“However, conventional refurbishment projects often miss the opportunities available, leading to unintentional and unnecessary increases in energy use and associated emissions.”
Relatively simple measures can make a big difference. For example, ECEX’s Air Intake Screens – effectively external filters fitted to equipment such as Air Handling Units (AHUs) to prevent airborne debris entering and affecting their efficiency – have been proven to reduce environmental impact and maintenance significantly, as well as making attractive cost and energy savings.
An independent trial at Westminster City Hall in London measured the benefits of Air Intake Screens. Two AHUs were chosen for the trial in the 20-story building. Monitoring equipment was installed for the duration of the trial on the supply fan motors on each AHU with pre-heat, supply air temperature and outside air temperatures also scrutinised.
The AHUs were monitored in the first stage without the Air Intake Screens installed running under normal conditions. Primary and secondary filters were then replaced and Air Intake Screens were installed across the air opening on both AHUs. Then monitoring began again. During this second stage of the trial, the screens were brushed down by the maintenance staff.
The results were notable. For example, on CO2 emissions, the two trial AHUs clocked up savings of 438kg and there was also a 4.9% reduction in power consumed.
The site’s m&e manager noted: “Following the installation of the Air Intake Screens, we will achieve CO2 emission savings from just these two AHUs of over 5,000kg per annum, equivalent to taking one car off the road for a whole year.”
The need to reduce carbon emissions is increasingly pressing as the Government introduces new regulations that have potentially enormous cost implications. I would argue that taking the opportunity to retrofit technology such as ECEX Air Intake Screens during building refurbishment will help cut both emissions and costs.