How do we get to net zero?

Creating and retrofitting buildings to allow for a future net zero economy has now become an urgent issue for built environment professionals.

How must we adapt the way our buildings perform?


How to use the infographic

Select the blue buttons for information on present day.

Select the green buttons for interventions that will get buildings to Net Zero.

Residential

Net Zero Energy Use Target: <35kWh per sqm floor area per year

HIGH PERFORMANCE FABRIC

Net Zero Features: Triple Glazing, Increased Insulation Thickness and Consistency

Result: Reducing heating and cooling demands through well insulated buildings with a consistent thermal envelope. Buildings become more resilient to external temperature changes and provide a comfortable stable environment for occupants. Reduced mechanical infrastructure due to reduced demands.

AIRTIGHT AND COMFORTABLE

Net Zero Features: Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery, Consistent Air Barrier, More Testing

Result: Minimising uncontrolled ventilation and providing ample fresh air that can be filtered and tempered to an appropriate temperature. Proper testing and commissioning of measures ensures buildings are draught free and systems are quiet, efficient and cheap to run.

COMFORTABLY COOL BUT NATURALLY LIT

Net Zero Features: Appropriate External Shading, Optimised Glazing Design

Result: Ensuring buildings are resilient to future temperature increases, as a result of climate change, whilst providing ample natural daylight for occupant comfort and wellbeing. Using building form, orientation, external shading and glazing design to achieve suitable performance level without the need for further mechanical and electrical systems.

LOW CARBON HEAT

Net Zero Features: Heat Pump Technology, Transition Plan for Decarbonisation

Result: Low temperature, non-combustion generation provides efficient heat for occupants without significantly impacting on local air quality. Supplying heat through electricity enables future transition to zero carbon generation.

EFFICIENT LIGHTING AND APPLIANCES

Net Zero Features: Smart Tech, Controls, Local DC Grids

Result: Providing occupants with smarter controls over appliances and lighting to reduce their electricity consumption. Low voltage, low loss electrical infrastructure in place to take advantage of renewable generation and battery technology.

LOW CARBON REUSABLE MATERIALS

Net Zero Features: Low Embodied Carbon, Materials Passports, Design for Disassembly and Reuse

Result: Whole life carbon analysis of buildings encourages uptake of low carbon, long-life robust materials and products that have further uses beyond their end of life. Economic value is developed through cataloguing building materials and the circular economy demand for resources.

Office

Net Zero Energy Use Target – 70kWh per sqm floor area per year

DIVISION OF RESPONSIBILITY

Net Zero Features: Improve Landlord Control, Better Fit-Out Oversight, Systems Sub-metering

Result: Ensuring tenant systems do not conflict and override landlord systems. Requirement for tenants to fit-out units in accordance with landlord specification. Accurate metering of landlord areas and tenant areas designates a clear responsibility for identifying problems and making further improvements.

IN-USE IMPROVEMENT

Net Zero Features: Digital Twin, System Sub-metering

Result: A digital twin is a live, interactive digital mirror of a building and its electrical and mechanical systems. Through the use of this model and live system monitoring throughout the building, operators can fine tune the energy performance of their buildings throughout their lifetime.

FOCUSSED LIGHTING

Net Zero Features: Task Lighting, Reduced Blanket Illumination, Effective Lighting Controls

Result: The flexibility in office layouts and activity zones means that universal illumination is inefficient. Instead, lighting switches to smaller, task orientated systems providing local controls for building users and automatic daylight, time and occupancy controls to reduce wastage.

LOWER COOLING DEMANDS

Net Zero Features: External Shading, Night Time Cooling

Result: Flexible, adjustable external shading systems maximise daylight and solar gains in cooler months but reduce glare and overheating in warmer months. Buildings façades place an importance on future climate readiness and reducing cooling requirements. Where possible natural ventilation and thermal mass are used to allow the building to cool down during the night, reducing reliance on mechanical systems.

OFFSITE INFRASTRUCTURE

Net Zero Features: Thin Client ICT, Cloud Computing

Result: Cloud computing encourages a move away from onsite computing systems, meaning that the energy demands associated with the running of local servers are redistributed to centralised data centres.

LOW CARBON REUSABLE MATERIALS

Net Zero Features: Low Embodied Carbon, Materials Passports, Design for Disassembly and Reuse

Result: Whole life carbon analysis of buildings encourages uptake of low carbon, long-life robust materials and products that have further uses beyond their end of life. Economic value is developed through cataloguing building materials and the circular economy demand for resources.

Retail

Net Zero Energy Use Target – Dependant on scale and format

Balanced Heating and Cooling Demands

Net Zero Features: Improved Building Fabric, Thermal Storage, Night Time Cooling

Result: An efficient building fabric, reducing the considerable heat lost through doors and building delivery areas, balances out the demands for heating and cooling. Ground source heat pumps are used to supply heating and cooling demands whilst using the ground to store excess heating and cooling when possible.

Optimised Refrigeration

Net Zero Features: Ground Source Refrigeration, Out of Hours Measures, Vigilant Monitoring and Maintenance

Result: The substantial demand for refrigeration is supplied through ground sourced systems, increasing efficiency and reusing or storing excess heat for future use in domestic hot water or space heating. Chillers are covered out of hours to reduce demands and avoid impacts on space heating requirements. Time controllers are in place to stop chillers operating out of hours for non-perishable items. Refrigeration systems are regularly checked for temperature range and quality of seals, with the overall system maintained by a specialist contractor.

SENSORS AND CONTROLS

Net Zero Features: Local Lighting, Reduced Blanket Illumination, Effective Lighting Controls

Result: Smaller, localised systems meet lighting demands for the building, reducing the need for high-power luminaires. Lighting is well controlled with automatic sensors to detect occupancy and switch off out of hours.

Involved and Engaged Staff

Net Zero Features: Energy Targets, Regular Monitoring

Result: Targets are set across workforce to reduce energy, with education on where greatest impacts can be made.  Sub-metering to all systems throughout the building allows for the detection of out of range performance and areas requiring development or maintenance.

Renewable Energy Generation

Net Zero Features: Rooftop Solar Technology

Result: Low-density retail offerings maximise the inclusion of solar technology, generating substantial energy mainly through large photovoltaic arrays, helping the building meet large electrical demands. Novel technologies such perovskite solar cells are used to increase the renewable energy yields.

LOW CARBON REUSABLE MATERIALS

Net Zero Features: Low Embodied Carbon, Materials Passports, Design for Disassembly and Reuse

Result: Whole life carbon analysis of buildings encourages uptake of low carbon, long-life robust materials and products that have further uses beyond their end of life. Economic value is developed through cataloguing building materials and the circular economy demand for resources.

Why must we
get to Net Zero?


Acting on Climate Change:
The Road to Net Zero


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