Mar 12, 2021 Lucinda Taylor

A net zero 2050 in facilities

Advancing net-zero carbon … managing for performance.

“A net-zero carbon building is a highly energy efficient building that is fully powered from on-site with all remaining energy from on-site and/or off-site renewable energy sources.” (World Green Building Council definition – www.worldgbc.org/the commitment)

Zero carbon net buildings

OBJECTIVE. All buildings have until 2050 to become entirely net-zero – i.e. they save as much carbon based energy as they use. Today’s constructors are actively pursuing new, revolutionary, sustainable construction materials and energy sources to reduce the Embodied and Upfront carbon cost of every Project. All new buildings must operate at Net-Zero by 2030. New materials are being used, for framing, walling, glazing, cladding, flooring etc.  But now is the time for building managers to start assessing the changes needed to improve performance yet further, particularly in these millions of existing buildings which need to up-grade.

ADVANCING NET ZERO TECHNOLOGY. After the best green construction technology has been applied, the building still needs maintenance, the working environment needs to be kept user friendly – in a high class office attracting the best talent this is critical.  Fresh air and natural light are of great importance. The AC systems need caring for, upgrading, and in due course converting to new cleaner fuels and processes. Operational Carbon usage needs to be reduced.

IMPROVEMENT OBJECTIVES. Let’s just think about that.  We have four seasons. The sun is low in winter and can only be seen for a few short hours. In summer the sun is high and hot and can shine all day. How can we keep a comfortable year-round environment to enable the best performance of our workers, without demanding ever more from the power supply. The solar efficiency of the curtain walling becomes suddenly very relevant. So we use WORKING BLINDS, we use curtains and sheers to control heat build-up or the glare from the sun on our screens. Is it effective? How often do you get to your office on a summer morning and find all of the blinds fully open, and the sun having already heated up the office significantly? Or do you ever look around the office and realise lights are on full, and blinds are all down - including on facades that are not impacted by glare?! 

Blinds not working > Useful daylight wasted > Too much carbon being wasted powering cooling systems and lighting systems. 

Light glare through window

Why this waste?

SOLUTIONS

There could be several causes...

  1. The building has manual blinds that are difficult to operate, or ineffective. Building users are frustrated with trying to make them work or the time wasted opening and closing them.
  2. People often don’t understand best practice for blinds usage – e.g. not thinking as they leave their desk at the end of a summer day that they should make sure all east facing blinds are closed, to prevent unnecessary solar gains before they arrive the next morning. And fair enough – why should they have to worry themselves with the niceties of solar science!
  3. Maybe you are fortunate enough to have a building with automatic blinds, however the program was set up before a new tower was built alongside... And the program still drops the blinds in the afternoon as though the sun was shining on the façade, however many floors are now in shadow all afternoon. You are not alone – environments change!
  4. Or your automatic settings caused the blinds to move far too often, which was annoying, and so someone asked facilities to disable the automatic functions... Maybe you have a big asset that is sitting idle, but could be helping you hit your carbon zero targets.

These are all real-life scenarios, and reasons why some buildings are at the mercy of our huge source of energy instead of optimising the use of the wonderful sunshine, wasting tons of carbon that could be saved. 

Labetts are specialists at Optimising and Maintaining Blind and Curtain systems. Our team of experts are passionate about “Working Blinds” - blinds that do the best possible job they can. And our control engineers can assess your automatic controls and ensure that they are still optimised for your facades. A quick call, a quick response and an experienced technician is there to sort out blinds, curtains, motors or controls. Restoring  the tidy appearance of your building and more importantly the functionality of the glare and heat control – and again you have Working Blinds.

 

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Published by Lucinda Taylor March 12, 2021