Energy Efficiency in Buildings

On March 5, we celebrated World Energy Efficiency Day with the joy that each year that passes we have more efficient buildings. In case you are not yet on this topic, don’t worry, you still have time! Keep reading and start to keep up to date with one of the pillars on which all architecture must be based today.

What is Energy Efficiency in buildings?

The Directive on Energy Efficiency in Buildings (EPBD, 2018/844) defines the concept as “the amount of energy calculated or measured that is needed to satisfy the energy demand associated with normal use of the building, which will include, among other things , the energy consumed in heating, cooling, ventilation, water heating and lighting. ‘ Let’s say that the term is a quantification of energy demands and consumption in buildings.

Energy efficiency is based on an optimization of the production-consumption balance and energy savings. Its potential value consists of:

  • A reduction in environmental impacts.
  • Counteract the effects of climate change.
  • The evolution of the construction sector as an economic engine.
  • Reduction of energy poverty in households without resources.
  • Have more comfortable and healthier buildings.

If Energy Efficiency is increasingly present in architectural projects, it is because the passage of time is demonstrating the need for a change in how we understand architecture and buildings. This is an industry that silently calls for a definitive revolution towards technological development and adaptation to the demands of today’s society.

How to know if a building is energy efficient

How does an efficient building differ from one that is not? Is there any aspect that helps me to distinguish them at a glance? Should I change my “architectural style”?

Although there is no defined stylistic basis such as the Greek scrolls or the avant-garde currents of the s. XX, yes we can give you clues so that you distinguish the efficient architecture from the one that is not. The most obvious is the thickness of the walls and carpentry.

Buildings that save energy are characterized by having greater wall thicknesses due to the increase in the thermal insulation layer. The same happens with carpentry: the profiles are larger and even the glazing can be triple glass .

Another obvious proof is that you may be going crazy trying to find radiators and air conditioners without success. This is due to the fact that these buildings are energy efficient and some do not even need heating installation .

The third evidence that you are in a “saving” building is that you have a feeling of well-being when you are inside . This is because, being very well insulated, the air at interior temperature recirculates, the heat does not escape through the enclosures to the outside and you do not hear noises from outside.

Finally, the most immediate way to check energy efficiency is savings in energy consumption bills (either natural gas, diesel, etc.), electricity and water. Bills can be up to 90% lower than in conventional buildings .

Therefore, it is not a question of modifying your architectural gesture, but of incorporating new constructive logics, taking into account that buildings, in addition to being interesting as a compositional-architectural proposal, must be functionally economical in energy consumption.

The four pillars of Energy Efficiency

The main objective of energy efficiency is to minimize the Carbon footprint and the environmental impacts of human activity in buildings. To achieve this, you must incorporate these four basic premises into your projects:

  • Minimize energy demands; You will achieve this by improving the thermal envelope.
  • Install low consumption equipment and systems; latest technology active systems.
  • Fully automate the lighting installation; and of course with LED lamps.
  • Have the installation of renewable energy.

Measure the Energy Efficiency of your building

Great! You already have the basic guidelines to implement energy efficiency in your buildings. But how is it measured? ¿ How to evaluate the energy savings ? There are official (and free) calculation tools that will make your task easier. The most used in buildings is the Unified Lider-Calener Tool (HULC). Furthermore, with the recent publication of the new version of the Technical Building Code (CTE) , the official energy calculation programs have also been adapted to the new requirements of the new CTE.

Energy Rating in buildings

In addition to the HULC tool, you have a variety of applications for the energy rating of buildings . After calculating the energy demands, these programs generate the energy rating of the building-project, which in turn is the basis for the Energy Efficiency Certificate. The Certificate is the document that you must register in the database of the autonomous community where the building is located and includes the quantification of its energy behavior.

With all this that we have told you, you have the basic tools to begin to “change the chip” and realize that buildings must reorient their design objectives towards almost zero energy consumption. 

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