The role of energy-efficient ventilation

Providing ventilation only when it is needed and at the required level is one of the keys to reducing the energy consumption of a building. Vent-Axia’s Sentinel system, for example, can be controlled by a building-management system to provide the right level of supply or extract only when required.
With buildings generating almost half of the UK’s carbon emissions, building services consultants have a unique role in both creating and assessing a low-carbon environment. Nygel Humphrey explains how energy-efficient ventilation can contribute to this vision.Building-services consultants have a unique role to play in helping to shape and assess low-carbon buildings. As services designers, they can embrace low-carbon technologies and help ensure that legislative requirements are met. Clear responsibility The key legislation is the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), which was introduced in January 2006 with a 3-year implementation period. With EPBD Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) being introduced from 6 April 2008, the profession has a clear responsibility to ensure that building-services designs achieve the best possible rating under this scheme. In addition, since January saw confirmation that consultants on CIBSE’s register of low-carbon consultants register will be able to become low-carbon energy assessors, and thus both design and assess buildings in line with the EPBD. The theory is that EPCs will show the energy performance of a building by giving a rating of A to G in a similar way to electrical domestic appliances, where A is very efficient and G is inefficient. The EPC will allow prospective buyers, tenants, owners, occupiers and purchasers to see information on the energy efficiency and carbon emissions of a building so they can consider this and fuel costs as part of their investment. In addition, an EPC is always accompanied by a recommendation report that lists cost-effective and other measures (such as low- and zero-carbon generating systems) to improve the energy rating of the building. Competence CIBSE’s own register low-carbon consultants is, of course, specifically geared to provide the market with a supply of professionals whose competence in low-carbon design and operation has been tested and is registered. The registered consultants can advise on both design and operation of commercial buildings to the highest energy-efficiency standard and ensure compliance with Part L and with certification requirements of the EPBD. In January 2008, CIBSE gained approval from the Government for this register of low-carbon consultants to form the basis of a formal accreditation scheme allowing registered consultants to become accredited energy assessors. This represents a huge business opportunity for consultants and also brings fresh challenges as they help clients to actively reduce their buildings’ carbon emissions. Take mixed-use developments for example. Here, ventilating integrated office, retail and other areas together with residential apartments presents consultants with fresh design and installation challenges moving them outside the commercial sphere. CIBSE intends to add modules to its accreditation scheme for its members who are working on residential or mixed-use developments so that they can produce domestic energy assessment certificates using SAP. Quick access to informed and reliable energy performance data and proven low-carbon technology from companies which understand the legislative drivers at work is therefore paramount. Ventilation It is at this point that such companies have an important role to play. That is why we have introduced a dedicated and comprehensive Vent-Axia Lo-Carbon ventilation range supported by access to extensive technical advice, design and ventilation applications expertise. The VA Knowledge Bank, as it is collectively known, exists to act as a low-carbon-ventilation resource for consultants, allowing them to easily access information on how to reduce energy consumption and cut emissions on a diverse range of projects. As part of an overall environmental strategy, and with proper consideration given to design, specification, installation and best practice, the ventilation system can deliver a major impact on energy consumption and carbon savings. At the same time, the greater transparency afforded by manufacturers to the energy performance of individual products helps consultants assess how product specification will add up and impact on the total carbon footprint of a building or development. Our Lo-Carbon ventilation range, for example, provides just this degree of clarity, while ensuring full compliance to Building Regulations. Alongside commercial and residential fans, it includes heat-recovery systems, air-handing units and Sentinel on-demand ventilation systems which provide energy-saving performance in schools, theatres, offices and public buildings. Lo-Carbon ventilation is therefore relevant for all types of residential and commercial project, as well as the increasingly popular mixed-use developments. Throughout this extensive range, we have calculated not just the energy savings that can be made when comparing these high-efficiency products to ordinary ventilation units but also the carbon savings that can be achieved based on typical usage.

This 2-bedroom life-size eco-house built in London’s Trafalgar Square as part of The Mayor of London’s Climate Change Action Plan incorporates Vent-Axia’s low-carbon Air Minder to demonstrate the benefits of mechanical ventilation and heat recovery in a modern home. No 1 Lower Carbon Drive was on show in Trafalgar Square during December and, following its appearance at several locations across London, will move to the Building Centre as a permanent display.

On-demand ventilation systems such as Sentinel, are a key component in meeting low-carbon targets and complying with the EPBD. Designed to meet modern building management control principles, this type of system responds to the exact ventilation requirements of a room at any one time, providing the right level of supply or extract only when required. Heat recovery Controlled mechanical ventilation using heat recovery is another energy-efficient approach to ventilation that deserves consideration if Government targets are to be achieved. Heat recovery can save and transfer to incoming fresh air 70 to 95% of the heat energy that would otherwise be wasted. Meanwhile, changes to Part L and Part F of the Building Regulations conspire to make central extract or whole-building heat recovery the preferred low-carbon solution for ventilation in new buildings. Consulting the VA Knowledge Bank will be rewarded with specific low-carbon knowledge and solutions to help ensure quick, easy and reliable ventilation specification. Vent Axia is committed to low carbon ventilation solutions. That is why we are a sponsor at the forthcoming CIBSE Low Carbon Performance Awards and why the ongoing development of our knowledge bank is key to the role we play within the industry and a central feature of our Stand E356 at the forthcoming Ecobuild exhibition in London from 26 to 28 February. Nygel Humphrey is marketing manager for commercial products with Vent-Axia
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