When thinking about improving the sustainability of new or existing buildings a good starting point is to look at energy efficiency. Energy efficiency is important because energy use in buildings accounts for a high levels of carbon dioxide emissions, which in turn are driving climate change. By improving energy efficiency (i.e. how effectively we use energy), we can reduce energy use and hence carbon dioxide emissions. Energy efficiency is the most cost effective way to reduce energy consumption and emissions and should be considered before renewables.
Maximising energy efficiency in new buildings
Energy efficiency can be maximised in new buildings in the following ways:
- designing in high levels of insulation (e.g. in windows, walls and roofs)
orienting a building to take advantage of heat from the sun, thereby reducing winter heating needs (although this needs to be done with care to avoid overheating in summer months)
- designing out the need for air conditioning by using passive cooling and good design
- selecting efficient heating systems
- selecting energy efficient appliances and lighting (see below)
Energy efficient lighting
Energy efficient lighting is now available in a wide variety of forms and white goods (e.g. fridges, washing machines) are now sold with energy efficiency ratings – look for the ‘Energy Saving Recommended’ logo.
Improving energy efficiency in existing buildings
There are a wide variety of ways in which energy efficiency can be improved in existing buildings. Energy efficiency measures include:
- draught strips
- energy efficient lighting and appliances
- roof, wall and/or floor insulation
- tank and pipe insulation
- double glazing
- condensing boiler
- advanced heating controls
Making behavioural changes to how a building is used is also important and can lead to significant reductions in energy use. Changes include reducing heating temperatures or heating hours, turning off lights when a room is not in use, and ensuring that all appliances are turned off at the mains when they are not being used.
For further information on how you can save energy at home, in the office and at school, please see the 'Energy at Home' pages.
For guidance on improving the energy efficiency of listed buildings or buildings in conservation areas please the Council's Sustainable Design webpage.
For more information on energy efficiency at home call our energy advice team 0800 953 1221, including available grants.