Happy Earth Day to all our clients and collaborators! This celebration, marked annually on 22nd April, was established to promote awareness about environmental issues and sustainability. To mark this occasion in our own small way, this article will run down the fundamental ways that MEP makes buildings more environmentally friendly. With this foundation, we can work towards more effective and creative ways to make buildings greener.
Cut energy consumption in every context
You might assume that commercial buildings are the primary consumers of electricity; however, here’s a statistic you might find surprising. In the annual report published by Dubai’s Electricity and Water Authority, it was the residential sector using the lion’s share of electricity – a staggering 74% of all power. The biggest culprit was air conditioning systems, which of course in a hot climate, get a lot of use.
Nonetheless, this demonstrates the importance of HVAC planning, especially in residential settings. Developers should consult with professionals about natural ventilation solutions and warmth sources, eliminating excessive or unnecessary energy use. For instance, one consultancy in Dubai achieved a 15% reduction in energy consumption, even in light of the demand for air conditioning. In cold climates, proper insulation could translate into comparable savings.
Consider carbon footprint at every stage
Cutting a building’s carbon footprint is obviously the bread and butter of sustainable building. However, this needs to be conceptualised as a whole cycle; emissions don’t begin at operation. Designers and developers need to consider the extraction and manufacture of the materials they use, how they’re transported to the site and how long they’ll last.
New innovations in building design are happening all the time. A particularly interesting trend is ‘upcycled’ building materials, where architects are using reclaimed materials to cut a building’s carbon footprint. A particularly interesting project is Carlsberg’s Copenhagen brewery, which we discuss in an earlier article dedicated to upcycled building materials.
Be innovative to save water
Saving water is another fundamental aspect of sustainable building design and, as with materials, the industry is innovating. For example, low-stream apparatuses use 40% less water than regular spigots. To illustrate this saving, a low-stream toilet can save approximately 2.2 gallons of water per flush.
Speaking of toilets, greywater frameworks can also account for remarkable savings. In the past, many systems have used potable water for all uses, yet in many cases – namely flushes – this isn’t necessary. Effluent water can also be used in centrifugal chillers, cooling towers, and VFD pumps.
Monitor Coefficient of Performance (COP)
Coefficient of Performance, or COP, is a metric used to describe the efficacy of cooling and heating equipment. It is measured via the ratio of thermal output to power input. Equipment with a high coefficient of performance consumes less energy and thus, a reduction in power consumption. A good COP rating can be achieved via the basics: proper installation and regular maintenance, which in turn, ensures better operation of the whole system.
Consulting is key
There you have it – our fundamentals of building design in honour of Earth Day. Considering these approaches is essential to the MEP design process for more sustainable, reliable buildings. This is why MEP consultancy is integral to building a better future for our built environment; with the right advice, contractors can identify the most energy-efficient solutions to optimise their designs and go green.