Changing the way we build is not only important, in the UK, it’s mandatory. The Paris Climate Agreement inspired many countries to introduce sustainability regulations and the United Kingdom is the first major economy in the world to pass laws in an effort to end their impact on global warming.
What is a Net Zero Carbon Building?
A building can be described as net zero carbon in either construction or in operation.
In construction, a building is net zero when the amount of carbon emissions that are created during the construction stage is zero or negative. This can be achieved through the use of offsets or the net export of on-site renewable energy.
In the same way, a building is net zero carbon in operation when the amount of carbon emissions associated with the operational energy is zero or negative. This means it is highly energy efficient and powered from on-site and/or off-site renewable energy sources.
With this in mind, Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) are fast becoming the industry standard. This is because buildings are responsible for about one third of global energy consumption and modern methods of construction offer more efficient building processes.
What are Modern Methods of Construction?
‘Modern Methods of Construction’ is an umbrella term used to describe a range of alternatives techniques to traditional house building. MMC ranges from whole homes being constructed from factory-built volumetric modules through to the use of innovative techniques for laying concrete blockwork onsite. Simply put, MMC refers to digitally designed buildings that make use of the best automation and assembly-line production techniques.
What Are Some of the Benefits of Modern Construction Methods?
A building designed using MMC construction methods is much more likely to meet ‘A’ rated energy efficiency standards; something more and more purchasers and investors are looking for. One reason for this is because the method of construction means less waste and less pollution in the construction process itself.
Another major advantage for facilities managers is that items that require maintenance are all the same and located in similar places in all structures. This saves time and makes finding and fixing problems much easier and more efficient.
MMCs can also reduce labour costs and shorten design and construction times; offering very real benefits to facilities managers working in construction.
Additionally, MMCs lead to fewer logistical headaches and safety risks for facilities managers. This is because off-site manufacturing often improves both the quality and efficiency of the building because of the high standard of quality control.
How can you reduce energy use in your building?
There are a number of ways facilities managers can significantly reduce the energy use and carbon footprint in their buildings. These include: adding insulation, using heat pumps instead of furnaces and adopting solar energy solutions.
Insulating, along with sealing, is a fundamental step in the construction of a zero energy building. It is important to insulate the walls, floors and ceilings with types and thicknesses of insulating materials that fit the specific needs of each surface, and to design wall, floor and ceiling assemblies to accommodate those materials.
Reducing the energy needed to heat and cool a room is essential when attempting to meet the net zero goal. We recommend using air-source heat pumps as they are the most efficient system. They work by taking heat out of the air and moving it as a hot refrigerant through a small pipe to one or more indoor units that delivers heat into the house. In the summer, air-source heat pumps remove heat from the home and deliver cold refrigerant to the indoor units.
Using solar energy will lower heating costs. Solar tempering is one example of how this can be achieved. It works by taking advantage of the sun’s passive heat, without relying on thermal mass and it is most effective when living areas and windows are south-facing. Solar tempering can reduce your heating costs by up to 20%.