With government-led tax incentives, refurbishment of our building stock could be a growing source of work in years to come.
It offers significant opportunities both in energy performance and lower capital costs for building owners if they explore technologies that harness existing construction elements.
Automating existing windows as part of an adaptive natural ventilation system can improve indoor air quality (IAQ), increase occupant comfort and cut energy costs.
If the existing building offers large areas of concrete, their thermal mass can be coupled with an adaptive natural ventilation system to provide ‘free’ night cooling. This directly affects the cooling loads of the building and can significantly reduce - and sometimes overcome - the need for mechanical cooling.
Furthermore, there are significant opportunities in controlling solar radiation, both as a source of free heating and preventing overheating. An adaptive natural ventilation system should be able to process these naturally occurring elements and harness them to cut energy use and increase occupant comfort.
Occupant safety remains at the design core of any strategy and it is often possible to use adaptive natural ventilation systems for the provision of smoke control, giving significant capital savings by omitting the need to provide additional dedicated systems.
In fact, it is essential for any systems that may introduce air movement through buildings to be considered as part of the cause and effect strategy when designing for fire safety in buildings.
In order to maximise the energy and IAQ opportunities available in a refurbishment project, it is vital that a specialist company is consulted at a very early stage of design.
Specialists will have the knowledge to optimise potential solutions through the use of thermal and CFD modelling, and can demonstrate a proven history of successfully completed projects, including delivery of full turnkey solutions - from design, supply and installation through to commissioning their system to the design criteria.
With the fall in cost of electronic systems and the corresponding rise in reliability, systems are becoming more intelligent. With improvement in materials and designs, window actuators are becoming less obtrusive and more energy efficient.
So it is increasingly important that specifiers, installers and end-users understand the different performance requirements of systems and insist that independently certified, CE marked products are installed, commissioned and maintained in accordance with the design intent and building regulations.
Will Perkins is managing director for SE Controls