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30 March 2020
Kuldeep Bwail

How Building Services Design Consultants Must Factor in Sustainability

Who’s the big bad wolf when it comes to using natural resources? The construction industry. Construction is responsible for approximately 36% of global energy use and 40% of global carbon dioxide emissions. As climate change and the diminishing rate of resources become a growing concern worldwide, construction companies need to find ways and means to reduce their ecological impact. Enter, sustainability. Building services design consultants who offer high-quality HVAC and electrical drafting services must factor in sustainability as part of the value-added expertise they provide. With the increasing use of BIM (Building Information Modelling) technology in construction, delivering BIM MEP services is also an added advantage.

Firstly, what do we mean by sustainable construction?

The short answer is – construction methods that reduce the impact of construction on the environment and the users of the constructed building. These methods include:

  • Use of recyclable and renewable resources, such as solar energy and wind energy
  • Reduction of energy consumption and energy waste
  • Development of a healthy environment inside
  • Protection of the natural environment outside

So, sustainable construction causes minimum damage to the environment and promotes its endurance. It incorporates the design and management of buildings to optimise the performance of all building materials throughout their lifecycles. It tries to use renewable energy resources and technologies to construct, run and maintain buildings that minimise, greatly reduce or completely eliminate the generation of harmful environmental gases.

What are the practical steps this involves?

  • Moving from a linear use of energy to a cyclical process of renewable energy generation
  • Recycling materials and waste
  • Rainwater harvesting, preservation and use
  • Using solar panels and other sources of energy generation
  • Adapting buildings to changes in energy use
  • Merging building architecture to existing environmental features

Why has it become vital for the industry to practice sustainable construction and for building services design consultants to enable these practices?

Traditionally, the environmental impact of the construction industry has been high. These are the reasons why:

  • Heavy machinery used in construction depends on fossil fuels.
  • An excess of inefficient energy use result in the burning of more fossil fuels.
  • The manufacture and shipping of building materials contribute to carbon emissions.
  • Raw materials mining contributes to the pollution of ground water tables.
  • Global manufacture of concrete results in billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Hazardous waste generated by construction is sometimes improperly disposed, resulting in toxic pollution.

Building services design consultants and mechanical design engineers are in a pivotal position to plan strategies that can promote a part of sustainable construction. Currently, the standard for sustainable construction is the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standard, which is an internationally recognised certification system that provides third-party verification of a building’s sustainability. Building services engineers need to ensure that buildings are energy efficient, use renewable and responsibly sourced material and remain sustainable in the future also.

What Building Services Design Consultants Can Do

Some of the methods and processes that building services design consultants can suggest, promote and incorporate are:

Prefabrication – manufacturing components and units in an off-site factory

  • Extra material is not wasted, but recycled and reused
  • Helps accurate construction, so less material is recycled

Efficient MEP Systems and Maintenance – use effective, energy-efficient materials for interiors, exteriors, water consumption

BIM – Building Information Modelling is accurate, comprehensive and helps with material and time calculations

  • Reduces purchasing of extra materials
  • Improves building construction
  • Vast amount of critical information available for more efficient construction
  • Helps save gas and electricity through efficient design practices

Net-Zero Energy – buildings with net-zero energy generate enough energy for their own needs

  • Lower energy footprints
  • May generate excess energy, which can be used elsewhere
  • Adheres to ZERO Code Standard, which combines energy-efficient and cost-effective methods with renewable energy, on- or off-site, for ZNC (zero-net-carbon) buildings
Technologies Promoting Sustainability

Materials, components and installation of systems in MEP design are crucial for sustainable construction, and that can be assisted by the efficiency of BIM MEP services. Other technologies that can drive sustainable construction are:

  • AI (artificial intelligence) Technology in HVAC BIM Services – can help develop automated systems; energy efficiency can be increased and waste reduced
  • IOT (Internet of Things) Information – helps predict weather and install HVAC systems based on the predictions; can track human activity/movement by measuring floor and room temperatures
  • Heat Recovery Ventilation – uses natural ventilation systems and existing heating methods to create comfortable airflow, basically HVAC design services providers may consider this while designing MEP.
  • Electronic Devices – control HVAC systems, digital control units and sensors for reduced energy consumption
  • Solar Collectors – installed with boilers and thermostats to make solar panels more efficient and thus support the use of solar energy
  • Heat Pumps – affordable and more efficient than gas pumps, they are environmentally adaptable
  • Special Fixtures and Faucets – reduce water consumption, low-flow toilets reduce water flush consumption
  • Greywater Systems – used to conserve water usage, even use rainwater harvesting, for irrigation, gardening, washing and toilet flushing
  • Reduce Building Equipment – use fewer equipment for lighting, computers, office equipment and heating and cooling systems
Benefits of Sustainable Construction
  • Sustainable buildings cost less to operate, maintain.
  • Using sustainable construction technology has the potential to save billions of dollars on global energy consumption costs.
  • Reduction of waste generated results in lower costs for waste management.
  • Organisations can show their corporate social responsibility by using sustainable construction.

With the correct sizing and selection of equipment and methods such as daylight harvesting, the use of geothermal heating and cooling systems, building services design consultants can provide detailed mechanical CAD drafting services and electrical design and drawings that include sustainable materials and increase the building’s sustainability. Experienced mechanical design engineers, increasingly found overseas, can plan to include renewable resources, maintain efficiency standards and green building codes and deliver a sustainable building design, which will ultimately result in both short- and long-term benefits.

Summary:

As climate change and the diminishing rate of resources become a growing concern worldwide, construction companies need to find ways and means to reduce their ecological impact.

XS CAD has valuable experience providing BIM MEP services, mechanical CAD drafting services and electrical design and drafting services for global firms. Our range of services for building MEP contractors include MEP drafting, MEP BIM modelling and MEP coordination for sustainability in construction.