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Fit Out, Refurbishment, Sustainability

UK Cities, Old Building Stock – Simple fixes to help existing building stock Go Green

UK Cities, Old Building Stock – Simple fixes to help existing building stock Go Green

Sustainable development has been a major topic of interest and debate for over a decade. Depletion of natural resources, global warming, economic uncertainty and health issues are some of the reasons behind the sustainable development movements. It’s not just a political debate in parliament, but a move towards collective process among sectors. The aim being to minimise the negative impact of development to the environment through focusing on the operations of all.

Retrofitting and upgrading existing stock is one of the solutions to reduce the dependency on constructing new buildings. There are huge numbers of existing buildings that are suitable to be retrofitted.

When relocating a well-established business, it is not always possible to build new in large cities. Many of the established business districts which occupy city centre locations are well established both in terms of infrastructure and neighbouring facilities. The cost of demolishing a city centre building would be highly prohibitive due to offering compensation packages to existing businesses who are located within the office blocks or retail buildings. Fully occupied office blocks also command high investment yields, so to make a site feasible for a new commercial development. There are only a few locations in the UK that these options would make financial sense. Even the sites that hold potential with have restrictions with planning constraints.

Naturally, converting existing building stock with new materials is a simpler, quicker solution. The only downside – working in tenanted, fully functioning commercial space. Delivery of the project often needs to be out of hours and the public domains needed to be fully secured from a health and safety perspective.

With climate change at the forefront of society’s attention. There’s a need for mechanisms that can reduce the negative effects of development, construction and urbanisation to the environment. Retrofitting an existing building is one of the most environmentally friendly, sustainable and efficient solutions to optimise the energy performance.

Retrofit measures not only focus on energy, but also look at the usage of water and the production of waste. As an example, up to 40% of the energy cost per annum could be reduced by light-touch retrofit adaptions. These include the installation of energy-efficient lighting and controls, building services and management systems. In addition to that, recycling water and waste could also bring significant and positive sustainability benefits to old building stock.  Replacing expensive paper towels with an Eco hand dryer can reduce annual costs by up to 97% with the additional added benefit of improving sanitation and hygiene.

Quality hand dryers mean you cut out the need to restock and dispose of paper towels, reducing maintenance charges as well all the paper towels that end up in the bin after use. When this is applied to each floor, for both male and female WC facilities, across multiple floors – the savings soon multiply. Technology advancements also mean that the downside of installing hand dryers are no longer the case. The Airblade V designed by Dyson is eco-friendly, with very low carbon footprint – up to 79% less CO2 than other hand dryers. The Dyson Airblade V features HEPA filters that capture 99.9% of particles the size of bacteria so hands are dried with clean air and hygiene is further enhanced through touch-free operation. The green adaption works don’t necessarily need to be taken out in one go. Aztec are on hand to deliver individual phases of works or floor by floor. The green revolution doesn’t need to happen all at once. It just matters that you are taking the right steps and progress is being made.

Windows – Have you checked the condition of yours recently?

The Department of Energy estimated that 33% of heat lose in buildings is to due warm air seeping through window and doors, which are poorly fitted and are victim to air leak. The reaction to the leak is the heating system must work more in order to maintain the desired temperature. Thus, increasing the power consumption of the heater. Caulking and weather stripping are the easiest way to overcome air leak in windows and doors, while draperies work as thermal barrier and could help to reduce heat loss by 25%. Installing insulated window panels, windows film panels or Low-Emissivity (Low-E) windows may also help to reduce infrared (IR) heat transfer into the buildings, thus ensuring the thermal comfort level is achievable without causing extra power consumption from the heater or air-conditioner. If we work together to rectify heat loss and reduce the need of power production, this would make a dramatic effect to the environment, the building users and for future generations.

Using a combination of gas filled double-glazing, glass coatings, thermally improved edge spaces and PVC framing it is now possible to adjust solar gain, reduce condensation, prevent air leakage and improve the comfort of an indoor environment while offering huge savings in energy and money. Energy efficient windows reduce carbon emissions and help to address global climate change. Used in combination with other green building methods and materials, they are a good choice for a brighter, sustainable future.

Lighting – The benefits of LED

Lighting produces approximately 20% of the world’s carbon emissions. Traditional lamps (such as SON, fluorescent and filament) have remained virtually unchanged for the best part of a century and they reflect a bygone age when chemical pollution and energy efficiency weren’t concerns.

Today we need to combat ever-increasing energy prices, cut costs and meet carbon reduction targets. Whilst adapting or refurbishing any area of a building whether it be a floorplate, a reception or common areas. It makes sense to take advantage of the savings available by using LED lights. Typically, lighting accounts for around 25% of a building’s energy usage, roughly 9 million tonnes of carbon a year in the UK alone. So, if you are a landlord or a tenant, Aztec have a full electrical team to undertake that part of the project. Whilst our commercial teams are on hand to take care of the rest.

Heating Ventilation, Air Conditioning – Green Changes to make a difference

The Department of Industry and Science stated that in the average office building. HVAC system components would account for the bulk of HVAC power usage, fans consume more – about 34 per cent. Cooling assets ranked in at 27 per cent, heating at 17 per cent and pumps use up 16 per cent of energy. A building with marginal north and west glazing will typically have low cooling loads.

Asserting that one HVAC system is more energy efficient than another would be misleading. Many technicians know that a building’s HVAC infrastructure is like an ecosystem comprised of multiple organisms: the actions of one component will, in some way, impact the performance of another.

Another interesting part from the Department of Industry stated that a building’s design, location and orientation influences heating and cooling use. Regarding this consideration, a building with marginal north and west glazing will typically have low cooling loads. Pipe insulation is also noted that the thickness of the material used will greatly affect energy costs.

Energy efficiency in buildings is often reported as one of the direct economic benefits for real estate investment companies. Jones Lang LaSalle reported that from their 115 office properties that they manage in their portfolio. From making changes to their clients building energy usage and increasing efficiencies. On average each of their clients managed to save £2.24 Mil in 2017 and £3.0 Mil in 2018

For further detail on what changes you can make to your offices or real estate. Please contact our pre-contracts team on Tel: 0151 255 0850 or contact Paul directly @paul.ashmore@aztec-limited.co.uk

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