Good office design has never been more important, with increasing awareness around the benefits of healthier working environments prompting businesses to place greater investment in workspaces that protect staff wellbeing and promote productivity.
The UK government has also recognised these evolving attitudes, introducing tighter regulations to improve the quality and sustainability of office interiors. Part F is one of the most prominent of the new standards, set to reshape the commercial property landscape, placing an emphasis on a minimum of achieving acceptable levels of indoor air quality (IAQ).
Part L, another standard, is driving for greater energy efficiency to simultaneously reduce emissions, with the focus now on developing offices to be low emission, without compromising on quality or occupant welfare.
That means everyone working within the commercial property sector needs to get their heads around these new regulations and make accommodations for them with current and future assets to achieve compliance.
One crucial system under the spotlight is building HVAC, which if correctly planned, specified and installed, can help meet the requirements of both Parts F and L.
A change in attitude
Building greener and cleaner is nothing new, and with sustainability and well-being now central criteria within design briefs, specifiers are actively looking for fixtures, fittings, and components and considering solutions that lower environmental impact, HVAC included.
Important for ensuring a comfortable and healthy environment, the best HVAC systems can also help to maintain the fabric of the building itself. Yet, conventional and mechanical models require tremendous amounts of energy to function throughout the day and night, making them problematic.
The good news is that, with the latest advances in technology, this need no longer be a problem. Now, not only can you have your cake, but you can eat it too, by switching to intelligent hybrid or natural ventilation. It’s a game-changer, not only offering an efficient solution for improving IAQ but also contributing to a more environmentally friendly built environment.
Traditionally, conventional HVAC was seen as easier to control and regulate, but with the advent of more sophisticated smart controls and sensors, passive solutions can now be programmed and operated seamlessly within the Building Management System (BMS).
These low impact systems, which are made up of high quality actuators, can be automated to maintain a consistent flow of fresh air within a building’s interior, as opposed to recycling it, with a minimal amount of energy consumption. Natural ventilation can also help regulate the building’s interior climate, offering a greater degree of control to the facilities team when managing internal temperature.
Going further, natural ventilation systems are team players. When paired with other elements, such as low U-value fabric materials, increased value is guaranteed. In comparison to pure play systems, there are fewer mechanical components to control, so HVAC engineers will not be required to maintain this system regularly, freeing up the capacity to take on more projects.
High performance at a low cost
When specified alongside the correct technology, these passive or hybrid systems enable buildings to be more self-sufficient. This, in turn, optimises efficiency, easing the strain on budgets and effectively reducing utility costs.
As buildings are now expected to satisfy greater performance requirements to reduce emissions, it’s clear the appetite for natural ventilation will escalate. The UK Green Building Council estimates that commercial buildings represent 23% of built-environment emissions, and heightened scrutiny is on asset owners to ensure they are taking the right steps to reduce their carbon footprint.
An affordable and sustainable option for now and the future, the specification of low impact HVAC systems, high up in the design phase of projects, will prove the most effective and natural choice for high performance.
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