The Future Of Buildings: Energy Efficiency And Comfort
The construction sector is going through a time of change, in which energy efficiency and automation have taken on a very important position. In 2020, the regulation for low energy homes and workplaces will begin, and sustainable and green homes are already a reality. So what is the future of buildings? We could safely say that it is about energy saving and also about a great increase in comfort.
Nowadays, energy efficiency is the most important thing in building, and regulations make it possible for builders to bet on it. In the Technical Building Code -and above all in the Basic Document HS3- it is clearly specified that health and energy saving are fundamental in all housing.
Historically, buildings only had windows to provide the necessary air renewal, and air conditioning two decades ago was based on traditional heating systems and air conditioning equipment. As a result, energy consumption in buildings was very high. It should be borne in mind that, in our cities, the biggest polluters are the homes, offices and workplaces. Buildings emit the greatest number of emissions and pollution.
Health is guaranteed in modern buildings mainly through air renewal. The CTE itself clearly specifies that all housing must have some ventilation mechanism, at least a hybrid ventilation system that is capable of guaranteeing health. That is why the buildings of the future will undoubtedly have mechanical ventilation systems, which may be the following:
- Hybrid ventilation system. It merges natural and mechanical elements. Normally, it renews the air in a natural way whenever possible. When it is no longer possible, it uses mechanical systems with extraction fans.
- Single flow mechanical ventilation system. In this case, either the admission or the expulsion of the interior air is done mechanically at all times. It is always activated, and normally the air extraction is done automatically, while the air intake is done by ventilation grilles connected to the outside.
- Double-flow mechanical ventilation system. It is the best ventilation solution and is the immediate future of the buildings. The air extraction is made automatically through a duct network, while the supply air is made through another network. The outside air is filtered beforehand. In addition, this system is able to guarantee a high quality of air, since it filters it before entering the rooms.
Energy Efficiency In The Buildings Of The Future
As we have mentioned, the future of building is in nZEB construction, better known in USA as Nearly Zero Consumption Building. This type of construction will be mandatory from 2020 by US regulations, when all building must comply with the obligation.
This is the main change in the future, which is aimed at greater energy efficiency, and will be the usual trend in construction over the next few years. What changes will this bring about in buildings?
Air renewal systems guarantee comfort and health indoors and can help improve energy consumption by combating cold air in winter and warm air in summer. They are undoubtedly a very important feature of the buildings of the future. But not the only one.
- Minimize air conditioning. It is necessary to opt for a passive architecture, which limits the use of air conditioning in summer and heating in winter. Buildings must adapt to the environment and not be affected by climate changes. The orientation of the building is fundamental, but also thermal insulators, or doors and windows prepared to fight cold and heat.
- Less lighting. Approximately 10% of the total cost of a building is spent on lighting. Besides betting on LED bulbs, it is necessary that the natural light enters with greater efficiency.
- Intelligent and energy efficient ventilation. It is allowed in the Building of Almost Null Consumption that a 30% of the consumption is in ventilation. In this way, it is sought that the double flow ventilation becomes the option of many constructions, since it makes possible an improvement of the temperatures without depending on the traditional systems of air conditioning.
In addition to Nearly Zero Consumption Building, the buildings of the future are already present thanks to energy certificates such as Passivhaus or BREEAM , which are applied in the biggest part of the world to erect much less polluting buildings and in addition to full sustainability. Since adapting to the environment, improving health and cutting energy consumption will be the main characteristics of the building of the immediate future.