The importance of energy efficient housing


Before a new house is built, it has to go through a ‘detailing’ process.

This is one of the more technical stages of the design process, where the intricacies of the construction are assessed and the property receives an energy rating based on its efficiency and performance.

A house that uses energy efficiently is not only less costly, but it is also better for the environment. As an architecture company committed to sustainability, Living Space Architects strives to meet the highest accredited energy standards with all of its designs.

This isn’t always a walk in the park- accredited details often don’t match innovative building designs, so the thermal calculation process can become more complicated, involving a more in-depth analyses of the property specifications.

Living Space Architects are currently facing this barrier with the a new build located in Devon. Although the house is designed to be low-energy, its innovative design is not in tune with the accredited details, and so we have set about making changes and alterations to ensure we are able to meet these highest standards.

There are a number of changes and alterations that can be made to new designs to improve their energy rating and enhance their efficiency. Below are some of the ways that we intend to do this with the new build in question:

  1. Change the specification of the air-source heat pump
  2. Modify the insulation product
  3. Change the ventilation system to a heat-recovery system
  4. Work with air-tight detailing

Energy performance is assessed using SAP 2012 methodology, and is rated in terms of the energy use per square meter of floor area, energy efficiency based on fuel costs and environmental impact based on carbon dioxide emissions. In the analysis of the property, an ‘Energy Efficiency Rating’ and ‘Environmental Impact Rating’ are provided. Both ratings use a grading system, which spans from A (very energy efficient, very environmentally friendly) to G (not energy efficient, not environmentally friendly).

One (albeit expensive) way to ensure that a new build is meeting accredited energy standards is to complete a PSI calculation on every detail. This gives a more accurate indicator of energy performance and is effective when dealing with innovative designs that might not fit neatly within established guidelines.

Undertaking this part of the process might seem extensive, but it is a vital part of building any new property and one that Living Space Architects takes very seriously as sustainability is such a core part of the company. We are looking forward to adapting this latest build to make it as energy efficient as possible, so that the final product will not only be a contemporary, modern and stylish design, but will have strong materials in place to ensure it fulfils its low-energy requirements and is the perfect home.