Martin Fahey Head of Sustainability and Commercial Business at Mitsubishi Electric looks at how the building services industry can help us all be energy efficient.
It may seem strange for a manufacturer of heating, cooling, ventilation and controls to say to its customers “use less equipment”, but that is exactly the message that Mitsubishi Electric is urging everyone involved in the built environment to take on board.
Our Green Gateway philosophy asks everyone involved in the industry, from architects, consultants, specifiers, installers, facilities managers, building owners and individual households to ‘Do the right thing’ with regards to energy use by adopting a ‘Lean, Mean and Green’ approach.
We need to work together to do this because buildings currently account for around halff all UK greenhouse emissions, which is more than both industry and transport. It is therefore clear where the challenge lies and our industry can have a significant role to play in helping the country meet the ambitious carbon reduction targets that have been set.
New build rates in the UK are low, typically 1 to 2% of stock and whilst these buildings have their part to play by avoiding ‘locking in’ poor performance, there are 26 million homes and 1.8 million commercial buildings already in existence.
These existing buildings are an area where we are able to make a real difference quickly, and they should be viewed as a priority especially when you consider that around 75 per cent of our existing buildings will still be in use for the next 40 years at least. It is also clear that the fabric of these existing buildings is an excellent place to start.
Improvements in insulation can often be achieved simply and cost effectively and can make a real difference to energy bills and use.
This ‘Lean’ approach will ensure that less equipment will be needed to offset the loads that remain – something we fervently believe is the right approach to generating truly sustainable buildings.
Since we launched Phase One of the Green Gateway in 2007, our customers have applied initiatives that have significantly reduced CO2 and cut running costs in the buildings of end users, using the solutions provided. So it can be done and it can help to save on running costs.
Once the energy efficiency of the buildings envelope has been improved, the next step is to be ‘Mean’ by correctly deploying and monitoring the most effective and efficient equipment for that building.
This may mean simply using what is already there more efficiently by adding more effective controls. Old technology could be changed for more modern, energy efficient equipment. The use of fossil fuel on site, with its relatively high direct emissions can be removed in favour of lower carbon alternatives.
However, until you start to monitor and examine energy use, it is impossible to know how to use it more efficiently and engage fully with the users of the system, a vital link of long lasting reductions are to be achieved.
Lastly, we urge everyone to be ‘Green’ by incorporating low and zero-carbon technologies where possible to create some or all of the energy required at a building scale.
This can be in the form of Photovoltaic panels (solar panels), which can also help to generate an income under the Feed in Tariff (FiT), or by the use of heat pump systems that generate renewable heat to work on their own or to supplement the existing heating system.
The country faces the triple challenge of climate change, fuel security and rising fuel costs, and all those involved in the delivery and renovation of our buildings have the potential to make a real and significant difference to how we, as a nation respond.
If you would like to join the debate further, visit our Green Gateway Twitter page @Green_Gateway
Martin Fahey is Head of Sustainability & Commercial Business at Mitsubishi Electric and coordinator of the company’s Green Gateway programme.
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