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sustainable building design
22 April 2020
Kuldeep Bwail

Top 5 MEP Strategies for Sustainable Building Design

‘Getting in tune with nature’ is a ringing chorus around the world during the growing clamour for practical measures against climate change, virulently contagious diseases and out-of-control carbon emissions. Contemporary building services design or MEP engineering design must make sustainability an integral part of its overall plan. Sustainable building design, also known as green building design, minimises environmental impact and maximises human comfort. National and state governments are regulating water management and energy efficiency, encouraging construction that incorporates natural alternatives for energy and comfort from building surroundings, the use of sustainable materials and optimal methods for maintenance.

The statistics do not paint a pretty picture.

In Australia, 25% of its total greenhouse gas emissions are produced due to the demands of the construction sector.

According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), energy use and consumption by the building sector in the US are as follows:

  • 39% of total energy use
  • 12% of total water consumption
  • 68% of total electricity consumption
  • 38% of carbon dioxide emissions

The prime focus for MEP design services has become sustainable construction, the optimum utilisation of resources and the reduction of waste.

So, our top 5 picks for the best MEP strategies to promote sustainability in building design are:

1. Lowering Energy Consumption

In commercial buildings alone, approximately, 25% of energy usage is by lighting and 32% by HVAC systems. To reduce these numbers, electrical and HVAC design services can take the following steps:

  • Conform to national and state building codes for energy-efficiency requirements, especially for a building’s ‘shell’ – roof, floor, walls, windows.
  • Use motion sensors for lighting fixtures, so that lights are turned on when people walk into a space and are switched off when they exit the space.
  • Use eco-friendly light fixtures and bulbs.
  • Use AI (artificial intelligence) technology in HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) BIM (Building Information Modelling) services, such as air conditioners. This automates processes and can be adjusted to increase energy efficiency and reduce waste.
  • IoT (Internet of Things) data can be used to predict outside temperatures and thus monitor and adjust indoor temperatures.
  • Use technology to track human activity and presence by measuring heat levels and floor temperatures.
  • Install ventilation systems that are impacted by the natural environment, using existing heating processes to reduce heat loss and provide the required airflow.
2. Practice Water Management

Depending on its location and the local climate, a residential building will use 33% of its energy consumption on heating water. A greenhouse-efficient hot water system can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80%. Other strategies for water management include:

  • Use of a solar hot water system, an electric heat pump hot water system or a gas hot water system
  • Use of AAA-rated showers, producing 9 litres of water per minute
  • Installation of low-flow fixtures as faucets (using 40% less water than standard faucets) and low-flow toilets (saving 2.2 gallons of water per flush)
  • Use of greywater systems – irrigation and toilet flushing can use filtered kitchen wastewater
  • Reduction, control/treat storm water runoff from a building with smart plumbing design
  • Plan and implement rainwater harvesting design
3. Explore Energy Alternatives

Technological advances, such as BIM, can help mechanical engineering design services with improved hardware and the BIM process to explore and plan energy alternatives. The BIM process can be used to improve sustainability workflows, for maintenance management and to reduce carbon footprints.

  • Wind, solar and geothermal sources can reduce carbon footprints.
  • Ensure solar panels receive enough daylight.
  • Install solar collectors with boilers and thermostats to improve solar panel efficiency.
  • Ensure wind turbines have access to the right amount of wind.
  • Invest in daylight harvesting, geothermal heating and cooling systems.
  • Coordinate between power and special systems, planning the size of spatial requirements for alternative energy equipment.
4. Utilise Sustainable Building Practices & Materials

Selecting a suitable site and using its natural advantages is a first step in sustainability. With an architectural design that takes direction, wind and weather factors into consideration, MEP services can be designed for optimum energy efficiency.

  • Select equipment and materials of the requisite size and material.
  • To minimise manufacture and transport of building materials, use locally sourced materials.
  • Use recycled materials for building and interiors.
  • Double-glazed windows can help insulation.
  • Roof vents allow hot air to escape naturally, rather than use MEP services.
  • Window shading helps protect interiors from exterior heat, reducing the load on air conditioners.
  • Allowing natural light indoors reduces costs on lighting.
  • Light-coloured roofs reflect heat, reducing the load on air conditioners.
  • Building placement near roads, with rooms oriented away from or towards the summer sun (depending on local climates) can save on HVAC loads and costs
  • Building orientation and landscaping need to be designed to minimise their effect on local ecosystems.
5. Plan for Easy Maintenance & Enduring Building Life

After construction, keeping maintenance costs down with robust MEP systems in place can save costs in the long run.

  • Passive design elements and sustainable materials have lower maintenance costs.
  • Design MEP systems with materials, equipment and components that require less water, energy and toxic chemicals and cleaners for maintenance.
  • Customise MEP systems for maximum efficiency in each building.
  • Maintenance requirements should be simple.
  • Spatial access to MEP systems should be easy and unencumbered.
  • Meters can be installed to track sustainability progress, reducing life-cycle costs.

Strategies that include smart mechanical design services for sustainable building design need not be complicated or expensive. Designers and MEP engineers can design high-quality MEP BIM services with experienced and technically qualified offshore partners to promote building sustainability.

XS CAD has valuable experience providing BIM MEP design services, mechanical CAD drafting services and MEP engineering design and drafting services for global firms. Our range of services for sustainable building design consultants across the world include HVAC design services, MEP drafting, electrical drafting, public health system drafting and building services coordination using, Revit MEP, AutoCAD MEP, CAMEL, DIALux and bespoke design and drafting software. Apart from that, we also use BIM 360 Design for communication and cloud collaboration.