Low exergy buildings – using the right type of energy

Office building Rijkswaterstaat / Paul de Ruiter on Arch Daily

Office building Rijkswaterstaat / Paul de Ruiter on Arch Daily

Buildings account for one third of the world’s primary energy demand. The Energy Conservation in Buildings and Community Systems (ECBCS) Programme, which is operated by the IEA (International Energy Agency), ‘carries out research and development activities toward near-zero energy and carbon emissions in the built environment.’

One part of this research – Annex 49 – is looking at developing ‘concepts for reducing the exergy demand in the built environment.’

It takes for granted the need to reduce the requirement for energy (i.e. insulation) and increase the efficiency of systems (i.e. boiler efficiency). Rather, it focuses on how the energy that is needed, for heating and cooling say, can be provided by low valued rather than high valued sources.

In this context, low valued energy is derived from the sun, heat pumps or other renewable resources, whilst high valued sources equate to fossil fuels.

For an overview that is both thorough and understandable try the guidebook on the lowex.org site.

Case studies can also serve as a useful introduction into the subject:

The office building of the Centre for Sustainable Building is a demonstration and research project for the German research programme on ‘solar optimised building’.

Rijkswaterstaat is a demonstration project for the Dutch sustainable and low-energy building programme. ‘The available natural resources of water, sun and earth are harnessed to the maximum in and around the office.’

Bregenz Art Museum in Austria is another example. Its climate control system was designed as a structural cooling / heating unit, and allows the building to do without conventional air-conditioning units under normal operating conditions.

ESI references:


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