Despite numerous efforts from the government and public sectors to protect our planet, studies from the International Environment Agency indicate that the built environment, globally, still consumes nearly one-third of the world's energy consumption and emits approximately one-third of global carbon.
In China alone, the building energy consumption has increased by over 40 percent since 1990 and is now the second largest consumer in the world after America. Driven by the nation's rapid economic and population growth in the past two decades, mass urbanisation and development are projected to be on the rise.
The figures are staggering, but successful integration of sustainable building designs and techniques can reduce energy-related carbon emissions by as much as 30 to 80 percent. Other benefits include tangible financial rewards to the building owners, operators and occupants. Sustainable buildings require lower usage of energy and water, meaning their annual operating expenses are typically lower than that of traditional buildings'. The yearly energy savings alone will offset any premium costs incurred during the design and construction of the building within a reasonable timeframe.
Moreover, as investors and tenants become increasingly conscious of the environment and its social impact, assets with credible green designs features will grow in value, marketability and rental.
Indirect economic benefits can also be achieved through the design features, which can promote occupant health and well-being. Improvements made to the indoor environment, including better temperature control and increased natural lighting, can improve worker productivity and reduce absenteeism.
In China alone, building energy consumption has increased by over 40 percent since 1990 and is now the second largest consumer in the world after America.
What's more, with the Chinese government's commitment to cut carbon emission by up to 65 percent by 2030 (from 2005 levels), there's been a big push for green development with policy support and incentives to the building and construction industries.
The key to ensuring optimal and long-term environmental, social and economic viability of any project is through early integration of sustainability considerations. As green buildings have more specific requirements for measures and systems, having sustainability consultants work alongside the client and design team reduces the likelihood of conflicts between green design and traditional design. This can be problematic if changes are needed because it usually leads to project delays and cost overruns.
Sustainability consultants are able to help identify the optimal balance in sustainable designs, aesthetics and space functionality during concept design. Let's take daylighting systems, for example; they help reduce lighting costs and improve a building’s visual aesthetics. Sustainability consultants conduct daylighting simulation and energy modelling to predict the daylight levels and energy usage throughout the cold winter and hot summer months in order to determine an optimal window-wall ratio of the building.
A Continual Process
Ultimately, buildings need to be operated responsibly and maintained properly to retain its green criteria. This is why it is necessary for the building's operations and maintenance personnel to be involved throughout the project from initial planning stages all the way to construction and handover.
Recommissioning is another effective and efficient step that can be taken to ensure the building remains at peak performance. As buildings undergo changes over time, be it changes in departments or tenants, repurpose of spaces, adjustment of interior structures or if its systems have not been examined for months or years, undergoing a recommissioning is a way to fine-tune and fix deficiencies timely to update the building's performance. It also improves energy efficiency and workplace performance due to higher quality environments.
Recommissioning is another effective and efficient step that can be taken to ensure the building remains at peak performance.
All-in-all, sustainable design not only helps to reduce building costs but also to provide a more comfortable indoor environment.
Gaining Competitive Advantage
Faithful+Gould has developed an innovative combination of expertise, tools and data to optimise the balance between sustainability objectives, affordability and whole life costs.
Whether your challenge is identifying which requirements to focus on, or how to measure and manage sustainability performance, we have the in-depth knowledge and passion to help our clients take account of sustainability considerations, ensuring, for example, that the energy consumption is managed in the most effective way.
Across China, we have worked on buildings with a total floor area of over 17 million square metres, thereby reducing the average annual energy cost by 10 to 20 percent.