Changing the way we think

Interpretation of legislation in the commercial building services industry may lead to unnecessary costs in improving existing buildings. We believe greater carbon savings can be achieved in the short term with a change in approach to heating and hot water solutions.

Since the Rio summit on Climate Change way back in 1992, reducing harmful emissions has been on the agenda. The latest summit in Copenhagen in December last year continued in the cause of Climate Change, and it cannot be denied that reducing harmful emissions is now firmly on the agenda and actions are required to reduce global warming.

At Hamworthy we manufacture and supply solutions for commercial applications in space heating and hot water services, and so we study the changes from the perspective of our customers who are designing buildings and the associated building services. Whilst we endeavour to take an holistic approach to heating solutions, it is inevitable that the focus will be on integrating sustainable energy solutions with high efficiency gas and oil fired boilers and water heaters.

As we see it, one of the problems is the vast quantity and diversity of propaganda on the subject of climate change, so readers of consumer and trade media can be forgiven for being confused. There is a plethora of legislation and directives in addition to recently implemented and proposed new UK legislation in the pipeline.

In July 2008 the Government pledged to cut carbon emissions by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050, replacing the previous target of 60%. Another milestone in July 2009 saw the Government unveil plans to reduce carbon emissions by one third by 2020, claiming we’ve already achieved a 21% reduction.

Government aspirations lead to the interpretation of legislation, confusing policies with legislation. This could lead one to believe that implementation of renewables is mandatory, which of course it is not.

In 2002, evidence of action emerged in the UK when the  Government  had then interpreted those early EU requirements and revised The Building Regulations 2000, with the Approved Documents Part L for conservation of fuel and power in buildings, and for us particularly L2, other than dwellings.

In 2006 the Building Regulations were again revised, and the next revision is due this year. So does legislation help or hinder the drive to reduce carbon emissions? Well without sufficient policing of the industry, then abuse will continue, however if changes in legislation hadn’t been introduced, it is likely that not much would have changed at all.

Since 2000, the rate of change in the industry has been unprecedented, placing additional demands on all concerned with producing energy efficient buildings.

The simple fact is that all building owners and operators should take a responsible approach to reducing energy consumption, not only to reduce the effect of emissions, but also to reduce the costs of operating the building. In recessionary times it can be difficult to invest in energy saving, but there are many well documented low or zero cost initiatives that make a difference.

At Hamworthy we believe a pragmatic approach to heating and hot water is required. We are able to provide complete solutions to integrate sustainable energy in the form of biomass, liquid biofuel, solar thermal and heat pump energy, alongside high efficiency and condensing boilers or direct fired water heaters. Whilst sustainable energies can be seen as carbon neutral or achieve higher carbon reductions, they come at an extra cost and generally affect the design of the building, and particularly the space requirements.

In existing buildings we would support a reassessment of existing plant and advise on replacement of boilers, which probably have a seasonal efficiency of 75% or less, with high efficiency or condensing boilers which can deliver seasonal efficiencies over 95%, and when coupled with improved heating controls will contribute significant carbon savings as well as reduce energy costs.

Maybe it is better to improve a greater number of existing buildings than commit to fewer buildings because of the higher investment required for renewable energy technologies. That would have a greater affect on reducing carbon in the short term.

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