Energy Efficient Building Design

A building’s location and surroundings play a key role in regulating its temperature and illumination. For example, trees, landscaping, and hills can provide shade and block wind. In cooler climates, designing buildings with an east-west orientation to increase the number of south-facing windows minimizes energy use, by maximizing passive solar heating. Tight building design, including energy-efficient windows, well-sealed doors, and additional thermal insulation of walls, basement slabs, and foundations can reduce heat loss by 25 to 50 percent.

Dark roofs may become up to 70°F hotter than the most reflective white surfaces, and they transmit some of this additional heat inside the building. US Studies have shown that lightly colored roofs use 40 percent less energy for cooling than buildings with darker roofs. White roof systems save more energy in sunnier climates. Advanced electronic heating and cooling systems can moderate energy consumption and improve the comfort of people in the building.

Proper placement of windows and skylights and use of architectural features that reflect light into a building, can reduce the need for artificial lighting. Compact fluorescent lights use two-thirds less energy and last 6 to 10 times longer than incandescent light bulbs. Newer fluorescent lights produce a natural light, and in most applications they are cost effective, despite their higher initial cost, with payback periods as low as a few months. However, those ideals may not always be achieved in practice, because lifetime depends on the frequency of usage. In addition, CFLs emit UV-light which can harm polymers and pigments. Thay also respind more slowly when switched on, so may represent a safety hazard in halls and stairways for example. Increased use of natural and task lighting have been shown by one study to increase productivity in schools and offices.However, fluorescent lighting can be harsh, and the flicker can induce migraine, so caution is needed when replacing incandescent lights.

Effecive energy-efficient building design can include the use of low cost Passive Infra Reds (PIRs) to switch-off lighting when areas are unnoccupied such as toilets, corridors or even office areas out-of-hours. In addition, lux levels can be monitored using daylight sensors linked to the building's lighting scheme to switch on/off or dim the lighting to pre-defined levels to take into account the natural light and thus reduce consumption. Building Management Systems (BMS) link all of this together in one centralised computer to control the whole building's lighting and power requirements.