The lights are ON but nobody is home

I recently conducted an energy audit of a building discovering an entire floor of unoccupied plant rooms with the lights in every room switched “ON”.

The photograph below, is typical, yet another unoccupied plant room with the lights burning fuel late into the night.

Is it safe to assume there is a disconnect here? Actually, it is a common problem. The firms which are employed to operate our buildings don’t actually pay the energy bill every month, so there is no financial or other incentive to switch off unnecessary lighting fittings.

We know penalties don’t work, a system of positive incentives are needed here.

Who is designing your Green building?

kelcroft, john herbert, green building

I attended the Enviroseries 08 conference, the topic was energy efficiency. What has become increasing transparent is that the business as usual approach to buildings, and green building is just not working.

For green buildings who designs them?  It seems clear to me that when the overriding consideration is the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership)  that is the on-going fuel and energy costs for the life of a building (claims of upto 70% of the cost are often cited) outweigh other considerations in terms of sustainability. So the question must be asked why are architects leading?

An architect can’t calculate the primary metric KWH/sqm/PA, the cooling and heating loads for a particular aspect, zone or elevation, and the architect can’t tell you the right glazing balancing the cost of solar reflection and creating a perimeter day lighting zone, or the water impact, etc. etc. the list is long an tedious – so you have to ask the question where is the value? Notwithstanding companies like RENEW ENERGY, which manufacture the best solar equipment, the above questions would still stay germane, as that only partly slices off a sliver of the problem.

green building, kelcroft, john herbert

Conference Brochure

it seems clear that Building developers are asking the wrong people to create green buildings, the architect is the middle man, needing the advice from a legion of E&M engineers. It’s the E&M engineers that do the heavy lifting, calculating the energy metrics of building envelope, assessing the operating cost, modelling energy savings for a green roof or cool roof, not the architect. Its the engineers that need to specify the performance of the building materials if energy costs are to be controlled.

Buildings in Hong Kong and elsewhere designed under the old method with a lead architect, those buildings consume 86% of all the electricity generated – business as usual?

The lion share of the future energy and ownership costs of building is too often determined by an architect, and that needs to change if our goal of lowering GHG emissions is to be met.