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What can we do to create more energy-efficient buildings?

With climate change a growing concern and energy costs soaring, the need to create more energy-efficient buildings is clear.

Individuals and companies are doing their bit to reduce consumption wherever they can. But if we really want to make a difference, we need to think beyond just turning off a few lights and boiling the kettle less.

We need to make buildings more energy efficient, with a focus on three key areas:

1. Ensuring new buildings are built with efficiency in mind and choosing energy-efficient construction methods
2. Ensuring the building systems are efficient – lighting, electrical, machinery and equipment
3. Upgrading existing buildings and equipment to increase efficiency

In this article, we’re looking at just some of the ways we can create more energy-efficient buildings.

New builds and extensions

If you need more space for your business operations, it can be tempting to opt for a custom-built facility or extend your existing property. But before you rush into a major construction project, take time to evaluate your existing space.

With a few alterations and some expert space planning, you might find you can optimise more of the space you already have.

If a ground-up new build is unavailable, consider creating something with as small a footprint as possible. There is no point in having a huge building if it isn’t necessary – it’ll just cost more in light and heat.

And look for energy-efficient materials. There are plenty of choices for greener construction, and some developers are now favouring more energy-efficient solutions over traditional brick structures.

Insulated concrete - known to achieve energy savings of approximately 20% against traditional building materials.

Foam energy bricks – also known as ‘green energy bricks’ and gaining popularity over concrete blocks, insulating sixteen times more effectively, according to some sources.

Straw – an excellent choice for dry climates and inexpensive too, with tightly-packed bales creating the walls, and coated in plaster to provide insulation.

If brick or timber are your best or only options, remember to include building fundamentals such as wall and roof insulation to prevent unnecessary heat loss. Choose naturally thermal materials wherever possible and try to source from eco-friendly companies to help achieve the maximum green results.

Fixtures and fittings

Anywhere you find lighting or power in your building, you have an opportunity for efficiency, and you should capitalise on these opportunities when planning a new build or extension. But even old buildings can benefit from a few simple upgrades

Here are some of the easiest ways you can increase efficiency and reduce energy use.

Upgrade to LED lighting

LED lighting costs considerably less than when it first came to the market, so much so that it’s often considered a no-brainer. Experts say it uses at least 75 per cent less energy at home and 50 per cent in the workplace, and lasts 25 times longer than incandescent lighting.

Install timers, motion sensors and smart controls

Smart controls are a fantastic way to reduce energy use in both homes and businesses. You can programme your heating to adjust automatically and even control the settings for individual rooms or areas. Reduce the amount of light wasted by having motion sensors, timers or lighting that adjusts its brightness depending on the amount of natural light in the room.

Invest in solar panels

Having your own renewable energy source is a great way to save on cost and reduce carbon emissions. Solar power technology has made significant advances in recent years and requires very little maintenance once installed. If your building has a large, flat roof, then you should definitely consider investing in solar panels. You might even be able to keep the cost down using government incentives to fund the installation.

 

Improve insulation

A high proportion of energy is wasted purely through poor insulation. An air tightness test can quickly identify gaps and leaks in your walls, windows and ceilings. Replacing and upgrading your wall and ceiling insulation and investing in double or triple-glazed windows can significantly reduce unnecessary energy loss.

Upgrade HVAC systems

HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) systems can be one of the biggest drains on energy, especially if the system is old and inefficient. Look for systems that are designed for energy efficiency and install smart controls to optimise energy use. Blocked or dirty vents, filters and ducts mean systems have to work harder, requiring additional power, so make sure you invest in regular cleaning and maintenance.

Creating energy-efficient factoriesGraphical depiction of energy efficient factories

The manufacturing industry has been one of the biggest contributors to the current climate crisis through air pollution, toxic waste, and water pollution. Given that fact, it’s not surprising that all eyes are on manufacturers to do more to reduce carbon emissions.

While most manufacturers are doing their best to become more energy efficient, there’s still a way to go.

As well as taking all of the measures above, manufacturers can also reduce energy use further by:

Upgrading old, inefficient plant machinery
• Installing smarter lighting solutions in factories and warehouses
• Installing variable speed drives
• Investing in voltage optimisation
• Switching to energy-efficient motors
• Installing control and automation systems
• Implementing a robust planned maintenance programme

If you’d like help with any of these areas, speak to the team at AES.

How is AES playing their part?

At AES, we’re committed to doing our bit for the planet and helping our clients reduce their emissions too.

As part of our mission to collectively reduce carbon emissions, we offer free energy reduction audits to manufacturers.

You’ll receive a full report detailing where energy consumption savings can be made and the cost savings for your business.
If you’re planning a new factory build or extension, we can assist with the planning and design of your production plant and manage all the electrical installations to ensure your factory is safe and efficient at every stage.

We also offer energy reduction services for new and existing factories. These include low-energy lighting solutions, voltage optimisation, energy-efficient motors, variable speed drives and state-of-the-art control and automation systems.

If you’d like to start your journey to energy efficiency, get in touch to find out how AES can support your sustainability targets.

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