Tata Steel has today unveiled a new building operational CO2 calculation tool that will help specifiers to make more informed decisions when selecting roof and wall cladding systems, helping them ensure that their building envelope has the lowest, economically viable, carbon footprint.
The tool was developed in conjunction with Oxford Brookes University and validated with Tata Steel UK supply chain partners in response to architects requests for more detailed guidance on cladding systems carbon dioxide emissions tailored to a specific building. Prior to this, information was available based on examples of generic ‘large’, ‘medium’ or ‘small’ buildings but the results were subjective and only provided indicative performance.
The calculator uses actual building details such as location; occupancy; building geometry; cladding specification; and building envelope renewable energy systems. It then determines how changes to the building envelope specification, internal lighting conditions, and the addition of renewable energy systems affects both the building CO2 emissions (and so Part L compliance) and the building energy use and costs.
Up to three different specifications can be compared with the notional and backstop (worst allowable) specifications. This can then inform the final figures used for Part L compliance calculations.
Prof Ray Ogden, Oxford Brookes University stated “At Oxford Brookes University, we have been supporting Tata Steel in playing a key role in the development of new products and solutions that are high performing, reliable and economic. The calculator tool is an extension of this, designed to help clients and specifiers achieve sustainable, low carbon buildings constructed to the very highest standard. For this to happen, it is key that the relevant analyses must be undertaken early within the projects design to ensure that any potential is maximised.”
He continued “‘Fabric first’ approaches have much to commend them. If the building envelope can, without recourse to mechanic services deliver good temperate environments, then the need to generate and invest energy in building services is reduced. Sustainable construction most often starts therefore with a sustainable building envelope. Not only are ‘U’ values important but loss through thermal bridges and at interfaces between elements (linear thermal bridges), and effective control of ventilation and air infiltration is increasingly significant. Quality detailing is essential and as energy losses are minimised strategies have to be found in many buildings for avoidance of overheating which can have even more severe energy consequences than excessive heat losses.
In addition, lighting typically accounts for around 50% of the electricity used in commercial and industrial buildings. Novel mainstream products such as high reflectivity liner and highly insulative roof light systems with good light transmission characteristics can significantly reduce energy needs.”
Energy reduction in buildings is a key part of the UK response to climate change, and of meeting the challenges of resource depletion and energy security. Forty percent of the UK’s energy consumption and carbon emissions are attributable to the operational energy requirements of buildings; as a consequence there is a sustained drive to achieve better standards of energy efficiency across all sectors. In terms of new buildings the agenda is looking firmly toward low and zero energy performance, there is no doubt that regulations will change the way that buildings are constructed and the products and materials that are used. This CO2 calculator tool is a step in the right direction to enable this to happen, for specifiers to make a more informed and cost effective selection to achieve low energy building envelopes.
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