Alex Coppock

Unbiased answers to your sustainability questions

by 12th Mar, 2015

An underfloor heating installation in a churchAn underfloor heating installation in a church

How do you turn the raw combination of walls, floors and roof into a comfortable, welcoming space that’s a pleasure to live in? Heat, light and power play a vital part. When you think about it, all three are relative newcomers to buildings, but there’s no doubting their importance these days.

Aside from their importance in making your building a home, there are also other reasons why they are so important.

Firstly because there are certain regulations that need to be met.

Secondly because there is the sustainability question to be considered: how sustainable do you want your home to be?

And thirdly because of the costs involved. The components involved in heating, lighting and powering a home can easily be 25 – 33% of the total cost of the build and sometimes more when sustainability plays a big part.

For all these reasons getting them right first time saves you time, money and heartache in the long run.

On a simple build, getting heat, light and power right is something that the majority of architects have the knowledge and understanding to do themselves.

An underfloor heating installation in a churchBut on more complicated projects or when sustainability is a key issue, additional expertise may be required to enable you to make more informed decisions. In the first instance we turn to Mechanical and Electrical Engineers. They have greater knowledge of the equipment and systems which can be used in modern buildings and how to make them work together effectively. They can also build energy models that test different design approaches and compare results, allowing you to understand the best way ahead or how a particular technology meets your sustainability values.

Without their expertise, working out which solution is right for your project can be very difficult. They can offer unbiased advice in a field where many claims are made for different approaches, systems and technologies which on first reading may seem to conflict.

The complexity and confusion around sustainable technologies is something that frustrated one of our consultants. He felt it was hard for the average person to get to grips with sustainable technologies or understand the issues at stake. It meant it was very difficult for people to know what or who to trust, leaving them at risk of receiving bad advice.

So he has created a website, smartgreenengineer.co.uk.

An underfloor heating installation in a church

Written by impartial experts it provides free and honest advice, guidance, design and technology descriptions for many modern systems promoted as green and energy efficient as well as more conventional building services. It is designed to enable homeowners and self-builders to make informed calculated decisions about which technology is right their project.

We highly recommend this website if you’re a homeowner or self-builder as a great way to get straightforward answers and impartial guidance. We also recommend it if you’re working with an architect as a great way to be informed about the technologies being considered for your home so you can take part in the discussions about them.