"High fabric energy efficiency is a priority, not an indulgence"
(31/01/2013, for NBS)
"Sofie Pelsmakers of Architecture for Change, and author of The Environmental Design Pocketbook, picks up on the problem with box-ticking and assessment systems in one of three guest articles included in theSustainability Survey report. Noting that 43% of respondents use the BREEAM assessment tools and 40% cite regular use of the Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH), she points out that such systems encompass a range of requirements and that fabric efficiency - by far the most important factor in terms of sustainability in all its forms (environmental, social and economic) - is competing for attention with more glamorous (and often more publicly visible) factors such as water use and waste. This can sometimes result in counterintuitive design decisions.", Melanie Thompson
The NBS sustainability survey 2012 highlights that despite environmental sustainability being clearly on the architectural and construction industry's agenda, operational energy is not the highest priority and was ranked fifth after health risks, water, air pollution and waste.
This ranking is surprising, particularly given that energy bills for building owners and occupants keep rising and are projected to keep rising for the foreseeable future. Every year it is more expensive to keep the lights on and heat or cool our spaces. Additionally, health, which is considered the most important issue by respondents, and operational energy are interlinked: high fabric standards undeniably safeguard occupant health, while reducing energy demand and operational carbon. This is because fabric energy efficiency, combined with careful material specifications to avoid unhealthy finishes, provides occupants with greater thermal comfort now and in a changing climate, buffering occupants from rising energy prices, fuel poverty and associated health risks.
In fact, if the industry fully understood the interconnection between health and operational carbon, one would expect low-energy buildings to be mainstream, though this is not the case. But let's take a closer look at why this may be, what operational carbon means, why it is not considered a priority and why it should be.
Read full article here and quotes here.
Full report can be downloaded here.
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