net zero building regulations architects

9 Top tips to meet net-zero building regulations for Architects

In 2021 the UK government published its net-zero greenhouse gas emissions strategy, setting out a path for net-zero building regulations by 2050. This crossed over multiple sectors including domestic energy consumption and the way we power and heat buildings. They also published a heat and buildings strategy to improve energy efficiency within residential homes. This set out a plan to decarbonise homes and commercial, industry and public sector buildings.

The new changes ensured new methods of measuring energy efficiency were met, introduced regulations on overheating, and included changes to the previous building regulations.

Reaching the new net-zero building regulations requires careful planning, innovative design strategies and the integration of sustainable technologies. It’s something that needs to be carefully thought about during planning.

That’s why we’ve put together some tips for architects to help them navigate the path to achieving net-zero goals.

1) Conduct a comprehensive energy analysis

As a starting point, a detailed energy analysis of the property can help suss out the current situation. Analysing what’s already there or original plans can help to identify areas of improvement. This can help to develop energy-saving strategies from the planning stage and build your designs around them.

2) Optimise the building design

Small aspects of building design such as natural daylight or ventilation can help reduce energy demand. It’s important to consider these factors and techniques within the design to reduce the carbon impact of the property. This can be dependent on which direction the building is facing, but elements like window placement or shaded areas can make a big difference without eating into energy bills. The size of a building can also play an important role in the scale of energy-efficient savings. Non-domestic buildings will vary considerably compared to residential properties. Proximity to other buildings is also a factor to consider here too.

3) Look at the building envelope

A building envelope includes all components separating the indoors from the outdoors. It can play a key role in the energy efficiency of the property. Typically, this will include the walls, roofs, windows and doors etc. By focusing on insulation, airtightness, draught-proofing and thermal bridging calculations you can design a more energy-efficient building. This will lower energy bills, be more sustainable and increase comfort. There’s an anticipated need for increased focus on cooling in the UK as global warming causes temperatures to rise. Ventilation measures and thermal efficiency measures can help decrease the need for cooling. Heat pumps are one way to provide this when used in reverse.

4) Make use of energy-efficient technologies

Heating, ventilation and air condition systems that are energy efficient can help reduce the carbon footprint of the property. In addition to this, there is now a huge choice of appliances and lighting fixtures that can minimise energy consumption. For example, smart thermostats or LED lighting.

5) Invest in renewable energy sources

One way to reduce the impact of carbon in a building will be to integrate renewable energy systems. This could include solar panels, wind turbines, or geothermal heat pumps to generate cleaner energy. Whilst these come at a cost, the expense can often be offset over time and will help to achieve net-zero energy consumption.

6) Flexible use of energy

By shifting electricity demand away from peak periods when there is plenty of renewable electricity around can help minimise overall demand. As a result, the amount of network required reduces cost to consumers. Smart meters or home management systems or energy storage methods can help with this. Smart meters can help deliver accurate bills and enable tracking of the use of energy in the longer term. Home energy management systems can be embedded into the design. They are controlled remotely to optimise energy use. These are methods can be implemented later down the line. With energy storage there are a few options:

  • Thermal storage – using materials such as ceramic bricks normally used in storage heaters, or insulation
  • Hot water storage – in tanks rather than combi-boilers
  • Battery storage – storing energy as electricity

These methods can help to provide energy when grid electricity is carbon-intensive and reduce the impact.

7) Plan to build with sustainable materials

Using sustainable and locally sourced materials doesn’t just offset carbon emissions for the building but with suppliers too. They have a favourable life cycle, reduce transport emissions and the purchase supports the local economy.

8) Implement water-saving measures

It’s not just electricity and gas that needs to meet regulations; water consumption is important too. Incorporating water-efficient fixtures can help. You might want to consider low-flow toilets or go even further with rainwater harvesting systems. Efficient irrigation systems can also help minimise water consumption. Part G of the building regulations states that a certain amount of water use should not be exceeded per person per day. Conducting a water calculation can help to identify areas required for improvement to get you started.

9) Get advice from the experts

Energy efficient advice, energy monitoring systems – contribute to reduce energy consumption- work closely with engineers, energy consultants and sustainability expertise to optimise the building design from the beginning and ensure compliance with net-zero energy regulations. Can also help to identify cost-effective strategies and address technical challenges.

Whether you choose all or just some of these methods, it can help minimise your carbon footprint and help you on the way to achieving your net zero goals. Achieving net zero  building regulations is a continuous process that will involve ongoing monitoring. It’s important to get feedback and continue to optimise as new technologies come about. Regular evaluations and performance tracking can help to identify areas for improvement over time to keep you on track.

For advice and insights into meeting net zero building regulations, you can give us a call at ASAPs. Our expert team can help provide calculations and assessments to get you one step closer to achieving your goals. Give us a call today on 01536 689007 or enquire here.