According to the UN Environment Programme, 40% of global carbon emissions come from buildings. Of that, 70% of the emissions are produced by building operations, and 30% come from construction.
This demonstrates that the target of net zero carbon by 2050, outlined in the Paris Agreement, requires significant commitment from the construction sector. It also explains why net zero carbon buildings are widely considered the future of construction.
What is a net zero carbon building?
Both the construction and operational energy of a building should be taken into account to determine if it can be truly classed as a net zero carbon building.
When the carbon emissions produced by the construction and operation of a building are reduced to zero through the likes of eco-friendly materials, renewable energy sources and various offsets, it is a net zero carbon building.
Innovative design approaches are required to meet net zero carbon targets in the construction and operational energy of a building.
Robert Whetham Associates are M&E (mechanical & electrical) engineers, BIM (Building Information Modelling) consultants and energy consultants based in Manchester, working on construction projects throughout the UK. Our role as designers, engineers and consultants in the construction of net zero carbon buildings has evolved over time as we introduce innovative designs and technologies to achieve net zero targets.
How environmental design and building physics are impacting modern construction
To meet building net zero carbon targets, environmental design and building physics have become dominant areas of focus within modern construction.
Building physics is an ever-evolving element of environmental design that determines how a building interacts with its environment, covering areas such as energy, heat, air movement, moisture, light and sound. It is an engineering concept that centres on the performance of the fabric of a building through to the way in which it loses heat and uses natural or artificial light. Building physics are intrinsic to the development of sustainable buildings and the future of the built environment.
Solar PV (photovoltaic) technology is now a major player in environmental design and building physics. Environmental building design is increasingly incorporating solar panels that generate renewable energy, reducing the reliance on fossil fuels and other energy sources that damage the environment. Solar PV technology has made a substantial impact on the route to net zero carbon buildings and the sustainability of the built environment as a whole.
Why mechanical and electrical systems are core to a building’s operation
Mechanical and electrical systems are core to a building’s operation and sustainability. Robert Whetham Associates are experts in the design of mechanical and electrical systems that protect the structure of a building and allow equipment within it to operate efficiently.
The requirements in the design of mechanical and electrical systems vary depending on the purpose and use of the systems within a building. To achieve environmental comfort and to optimise the operation of a building, it is essential that components such as lighting, heating, ventilation and lifts are bespoke to the needs of the building and its users.
The role of M&E consulting engineers in the process of net zero carbon buildings
With an understanding of environmental legislation and sustainable design, M&E consulting engineers have a central role in developing carbon-friendly structures. By optimising the use of eco-friendly materials they design mechanical and electrical systems that facilitate net zero carbon emissions from both the construction and operation of a building.
Through environmental design and building physics, Robert Whetham Associates enhance the sustainability of a building, focussing on energy efficiencies, thermal performance, ventilation, infiltration, comfort and user experience.
For more information about Robert Whetham Associates’ work on net carbon buildings, get in touch.