Exhausting Natural Resources Or Causing Severe Ecological Construction Essay

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As the designers for this project, we have been asked to carry out the development of a Sustainable 3 storey building block which will incorporate the latest in sustainable technologies, including the building's services, and will also be super insulated. The office complex is to be the showcase 'Eco friendly' Head office for a major Oil company as they would like to give something back to the environment due to the nature of their business.

Air Source Heat Pumps are to be used as the building's main source of heating during the colder winter months; however solar collectors will also be placed on the building's roof as part of a Solar Thermal System that is to be incorporated and to be used during the warmer summer months. Air Source Heat Pumps work by converting the energy in the air outside into heat. This creates a comfortable temperature in the air inside, as well as supplying heat for a hot water system. By extracting heat from the surrounding air, the heat energy released can be up to four times that needed to power the equipment. It is possible to extract considerable heat from the air even at temperatures as low as -15°C. This is converted into heat energy to produce temperatures of up to 75°C. The energy is used to provide space heating through radiators with conventional heating systems, or with underfloor heating systems. The advantages of installing Air Source Heat Pumps into the building are:

A Building Management System (BMS) is to be installed to provide adequate cooling in the building. BMS provide an integrated and automated system control of mechanical and electrical services in one or more buildings. The system is controlled through a user interface and allows a range of parameters to be set which will automatically control a building's internal environment. The BMS responds to a range of parameters such as daylight levels and temperature and will adjust heating, cooling and lighting levels to match the pre-set parameters. Local control can be made available which is area specific so that users can have a degree of control. The system works by electronically integrating all services within the building which is then controlled from a central point using specialist computer software. This then allows the facilities management to control factors such as temperature, lighting fresh air volumes and flow rates, monitoring of security and safety systems and building access. In terms of this building, the shading is to be controlled by solar marque celeste blinds. These cover the windows when sunlight is directed on to them. There are also wind sensors on these blinds which control the blinds when the wind picks up. Advantages of a BMS System include:

Photovoltaic Cells (PV Cells) are to be installed on the building's roof and they will control the lighting and electricity of the building. This system will also be used in conjunction with the BMS. Photovoltaic Cells are designed to convert sunlight into electricity. They can easily be confused with solar thermal cells and look very similar, but solar thermal cells convert sunlight into hot water as opposed to electricity. They are generally mounted on roofs or walls of buildings as an external addition or, where appropriate, integrated into the tilling works of a roof. Currently the life of cells is estimated at 25 years or more, and payback is estimated at 15-20 years but this is dependent on climate conditions. For example in areas where long hours of sunlight are common they can be cost effective within a few years. PV Cells capture the energy of the sun and use a chemical reaction to convert this to electrical energy. The advantages of Photovoltaic Cells are:

Electricity is produced even when there is no sunlight

All components of PV Cells are interconnecting and fully integrated

They lower carbon emissions

They reduce the impact on the environment

They provide constant, reliable energy all year round

Reduced exposure to the fluctuations of energy prices

A typical layout of a Photovoltaic Cell System is shown in Figure 2.4 in the figures section.

Fresh Water Supply/Waste Water Treatment

The fresh water supply to the building will be provided by Dee Valley Water. Dee Valley Water produces 73 million litres of untreated water per day. Of the 73 million litres, 83% is derived from the River Dee at two major abstraction points, 10% comes up our own upland reservoirs and the remaining 7% comes from two underground sources. Dee valley water will provide from their mains tapping plug cock a communication pipe to a stop valve and protection chamber just outside the boundary. A gooseneck bend is included to relieve any stress likely to be exerted on the mains connection. A service pipe is taken from this stop valve, preferably located just above floor level and housed under the main sink unit in the buildings kitchen. This stop valve has a drain off valve incorporated in it so that the service pipe can be drained. The service pipe shall be located so that it will not be affected by frost, traffic or building loads to make it easier to maintain and to reduce the risk of the pipes leaking. All fresh water will be adequately treated before it reaches the development and a diagram of how this is done is shown in Figure 2.5a.

A Grey Water System is to be installed to recycle some water. Water that comes from sinks, baths, washing machines and dish washers could be classed as grey water. Grey Water is suitable for flushing toilets and watering gardens. Between 50-80% of domestic water is classed as grey water. Grey Water is collected and treated separately to normal white and black water therefore installation of a further pipe and treatment works is required. The advantages of Grey Water include:

Reduced water use

Lower utility costs

Recycling of water

Figure 2.5b shows a typical Grey Water System.

Service Running Costs

In the past clients have been put off by the price of becoming sustainable by not seeing the advantages in the long term. The cost of sustainable building services may seem overpriced at first but over a period of time you will be saving money and also reducing your carbon footprint.

3.1 Solar Electricity (PVC System)

This example shows a typical savings calculation based on a New Build Development with a 4kW system installed based on the fact that the office will only be used during the daytime and not at weekends.

Total Generation - 3474kWh

Income from Generation Tariff - £1,254

Income from Export

(Building only in use 50% of time) - £52

Fuel Bill Savings - £225

Total Income and Savings - £1,531 (Per Annum)

Total Benefit (Per Year) - £1,531

Payback Time (Years) - 0

Lifetime Benefit - £38,279 (Over 25 years)

As you can see from the chart the PVC System is highly efficient and is also highly profitable of a period of time and as the company shall be in the building for over 25 years even more profit shall be made.

3.2 Solar Thermal Energy System

The cost for a typical Solar Thermal Heating System is about £4,800 (inc 5% VAT) on a 3 bed semi detached house (this will be a larger sum for the installation on this development). The table below shows typical savings (these savings will be higher due to the size of the building):

The cost of the Air Source Heat Pump System including installation will cost over £10,000. The system is to be used in conjunction with the Solar Thermal Heating System; it will only have to be used in the winter months which will cut bill costs. The table below shows these costs (this table is based on a 3 bedroom detached house):


Due to the nature of this project and the materials involved problems are likely to arise. Planning and Communication are key components to a successful project; they are needed to be able to co-ordinate a successful programme of works. As there are so many different services to be installed this will cause 2 problems; the first being space available on site and the second being the amount of contractors being on the site, therefore good communication is essential.

A Site Co-ordinator shall be appointed and shall be available at all times. The Site Co-ordinator will organise weekly meetings with sub-contractors to discuss possible problems so that these problems can be erased before they physically happen.

A schedule of works will also be put together so that each person knows exactly what they are doing and on what day they are doing it (this may be subject to change due to certain restrictions i.e. weather conditions). The schedule of works will also ensure that certain jobs are done in the correct order for example pipes cannot be laid without the ducts being installed firstly.

New technology will also be used during the early stages of the project; this is known a Virtual Engineering. Virtual Engineering works by data being inputted into virtual reality software which renders the design into a 3D model. This model can then be manipulated to show a variety of features and long term impacts of materials and methods of construction. The benefits of using this technology will help avoid unnecessary costs, minimise risk, show whole life modelling and provide a clear model of the project for you the client.


As the developers on this project we hope that you are happy with our proposals and are looking forward to producing a high quality state of the art 'Eco Friendly' Building that will be used for generations to come.


Figure 2.1a

Figure 2.1b

Figure 2.4

Figure 2.1a

Figure 2.5b