The impact of multi-storey building design considerations on embodied emissions, cost, and operational energy has been revealed for the first time.
The impact of multi-storey building design considerations on embodied emissions, cost, and operational energy has been revealed for the first time. Using a model, researchers estimate that 28 - 44% of yearly heating and cooling energy, and six gigatonnes of cumulative embodied carbon dioxide equivalent from now until 2050, could be saved in new multi-storey buildings by employing certain recommendations and using technology available today.
With the construction and operation of buildings accounting for more than one-third of global emissions and energy use, the race is on to drive down emissions. While buildings are a large part of the current problem, they are also a significant lever for change, say researchers from the Universities of Cambridge and Bath, who have explored the many decisions architects, engineers and urban planners must negotiate. For the purpose of this study, the decisions include shape, size, layout, structural system, windows, insulation, ventilation, and use parameters, for both residential (apartment blocks) and office buildings, across different climates.
The researchers built a model that allowed them to estimate, for the first time, the relative importance of such early-stage design decisions in a whole building context. Their findings are reported in the journal Applied Energy.
The study found that increasing building compactness, using steel or timber instead of concrete frames, having smaller windows with the optimal glazing for a given climate, and employing mechanical ventilation with heat recovery, are the most important measures to decrease embodied emissions and operational energy. The most significant trade-offs with construction costs meanwhile, were found for the choice of frame material and in the decision whether to install mechanical ventilation.
Read more at University of Cambridge
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