Reducing carbon emissions on development sites: Top tips

Meeting all the social, economic and environmental tenets of a sustainbable design can be challenging. Especially with recent changes in Building Regulations.

Check out our tips below on how to tackle carbon emissions on your development sites; from individual building measures to site wide energy strategies.

✔ Top tips

  • Consider appointing energy performance professionals early in the design of the scheme. This will help with dual aims, both reducing a potential energy performance gap and producing better low energy and carbon use buildings
  • Carry out high efficiency alternative systems early on a feasibility study to ensure regulation 24B is discharged
  • The currently unadopted approved document Z mandates the assessment of whole life carbon assessments, setting limits on embodied carbon. Consideration should be given to this on any future projects as this will soon be in place 
  • Avoid the consideration of introducing combined heat and power (CHP) units into new schemes - these perform very poorly and offer very limited benefits under the new calculation framework
  • Solar photovoltaics (PV) remains helpful and retains similar relevance in the context of lower grade electricity carbon factors but no longer offers a ‘get out of jail card’ as it once did
  • Solar thermal returns from relative obscurity to become a key technology particularly when offsetting gas demands
  • Developers should consider that the new overheating assessment (ADO) is applicable to ALL residential buildings except hotels. Applicable buildings include dwellings, care homes, schools college accommodation with living accommodation for children under five
  • The adoption of dynamic thermal modelling to demonstrate compliance will almost certainly result in more favourable findings for both approved document L and O
  • Avoid excessively glazing the South and West and consider the cooling strategy early on. For example, carefully considering where rooms with high sensible gains can be located
  • Compliance with both approved document L and O will be less difficult where energy, carbon and overheating risk are considered from a concept stage

× Things to avoid

  • Be aware that mandated performance standards do not ensure near zero energy buildings. With respect to the fabric, always aim to better the backstop thermal transmission values provided in approved document out by at least 15 to 20%
  • Do not allow the calculation to rely on default thermal bridging backstops. These backstops will significantly impact negatively on the overall thermal envelope. Appoint an accredited assessor early in the design stage to provide these
  • Avoid the temptation to use fossil fuel based heat raising plant. The main thrust of the approved document L is to move away from the likes of gas-fired boilers, and towards electrical heat pumps, be they air or ground source

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