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Building a better future means creating sustainable spaces where people can thrive.
But how do we get there?
At Darren Evans, we’re passionate about supporting you wherever you are in your development process.
But one thing we hear time-and-time again is that people wish they’d spoken to us sooner.
Here are 10 areas where early consideration enables you to create a more sustainable built environment where people can thrive.
- BREEAM: One of the world’s leading sustainability methods
BREEAM-rated developments are more sustainable environments and enhance the wellbeing of the people who live and work in them.
This helps to protect natural resources and makes more attractive property investments.
But to achieve BREEAM Excellent or Outstanding status, it’s vital to involve a BREEAM assessor at the start of your project.
Under BREEAM New Construction 2018, several reports need to be completed and considered in the early design before planning submission.
Failure to do this makes it challenging to achieve Excellent and impossible to achieve Outstanding.
- Orientation can reduce a building’s reliance on heating and support renewables
When we’re choosing a new home, whether the garden faces south is often a consideration.
But the orientation of a building affects more than just your ability to enjoy the sun in your garden or living room.
It also affects the amount of passive solar radiation the building benefits from.
If there are larger amounts of glazing facing south, then the building will benefit from more significant amounts of passive solar radiation, which will decrease the building’s reliance on the heating system installed.
But of course, there is a fine balance between this and not overheating in the summer, so careful consideration early on is needed to get it right.
East through west orientations also enables solar renewable solutions to be used, so ensuring that dormers and roof lights are positioned appropriately will maximise space for these solutions if they are relevant.
- Poor design is responsible for 25% of failed sound tests
None of us want to be kept awake by noisy neighbours or loud traffic.
Sounds tests ensure we can sleep well and hold private conversations with loved ones or colleagues.
But did you know that bad design is responsible for more than a quarter of failed sound tests that we see?
This is easily prevented by implementing an acoustical design review at an early stage when it’s much easier to iron out any potential problems.
- Calculate Psi values to improve energy efficiency and save carbon
If you want to ensure people’s homes are more sustainable and comfortable to live in, calculating Psi values (ψ) at the start of the project is essential. This is because you still have an opportunity to adjust the design of the building’s thermal junctions.
By modelling the thermal junctions more accurately you don’t over specify your project, which saves money.
You can also spot condensation risks through early calculation of Psi values and junction heat losses, enabling you to change your design to prevent problematic condensation in people’s homes.
- Consider cavity wall thickness and free up more space around the site
Cavity walls help create warm, energy efficient homes for people to thrive in. If the cavity width of the external walls can be kept to 100mm rather than growing towards 150mm, which we often see, it creates more space that can be used around a site.
On a large site, this reduced cavity space may permit another dwelling to be added, or it might provide the flexibility to include a higher number of larger homes.
We see countless examples where cavity widths can be held at 100mm when the whole building specification has been reviewed early in the project design development.
This includes building materials and junction detail design rather than generic U-value allocation with detailed assessment being completed once the design is fixed.
- Prevent over-specification by assessing what type of glazing is most suitable
Assessing what type of glazing is most suitable for the project will better portray how energy efficient the glazing is.
This includes an assessment of both U- and G-values or incorporating a G window value. We regularly prevent over-specification through accurately modelling the performance of this building element. Early consideration of the G value will also help combat overheating in our homes.
This is an element that is not dealt with very well in the current SAP calculations.
- Don’t forget about overheating risks in projects with both commercial and residential units
The climate emergency means heatwaves will become more frequent, which is particularly problematic in cities that already suffer from the urban heat island effect.
The impact of overheating on people’s health and wellbeing is significant. It can cause stress, anxiety and a lack of sleep.
In fact, the Committee on Climate Change estimates that deaths arising from overheating could rise from 2,000 per year in 2015 to 7,000 per year by the 2050s.
More and more councils are requiring TM59 calculations to tackle this problem, with CIBSE arguing that this methodology for assessing the overheating risk in homes should be an essential item in a designer’s tool kit.
In schemes that combine residential and commercial buildings changing the G-values of glass can have a negative impact on Part L compliance.
It’s therefore vital to consider all the factors early on in the process.
- Remember that SAP and SBEM calculations are very different, which impacts on the best way to make your building more energy efficient
Behind any energy efficient home or workplace is a SAP or SBEM calculation. But SAP calculations for residential buildings are very different from SBEM calculations for commercial properties.
SBEM calculations have a stronger focus on mechanical and engineering (M&E) equipment in the building, so the efficiency of your M&E kit is much more critical.
Conversely, for SAP calculations fabric is much more important, but sadly Psi values can easily be overlooked at the start of the project.
Modelling different scenarios at an early stage enables you to choose the most cost-effective, energy-efficient, low carbon solutions.
- Don’t leave lighting decisions to the last minute
No-one wants to work or live in a dark building. A strong focus on lighting at the start of the project, particularly in commercial properties, can enable you to make much more energy-efficient choices and save money.
- Conduct an air test even if Building Control does not require it
We always recommend conducting an air test in commercial buildings as it will help your SBEM calculation.
It’s a cost-effective measure as air movement through a building often contributes more to energy efficiency that the insulation values of the walls and windows.
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