Architectural Theory, Building Design, Design Guide, Design Theory, Sustainability, Sustainable Methods

7 Methods To Reduce Energy Consumption In Buildings

Planting vegetation and building climate responsive structures are important aspects to consider while designing a building which has less impact on the environment. But one other factor we tend to forget is reducing the energy consumption.

Methods To Reduce Energy Consumption

If we are able to make the building self sustaining, well and good. If not, due to various environment and economic factors, the best we can do is to try and reduce the amount of energy consumed by the building.

Some technology have already been put into use for this purpose:

  • Motion sensors
  • Rain sensors
  • Smart metering system
  • Drip irrigation system
  • Low flush systems
  • Regenerative lifts
  • Water recycling systems

All these systems either reduce consumption of energy and resources or recycle it to be used again

Motion Sensors

A motion sensor is a device which detects movement of people or objects. This device is usually used for security purposes, but in recent years, they are being connected to other devices like lights to switch them on and off based on people’s presences.

Motion Sensors
Motion Sensors

Advantages

  • Reduces energy usage.
  • Devices don’t need to be turned on and off manually.
  • Saves money as a consequence of reduced resource usage.
  • Improved security.

Usage

Sustainable lighting: Motion sensors can be employed to turn on lights and air conditioners only when people use the space.

Sustainable cooling/heating: These devices can also be connected to the building’s cooling or heating systems to control their power as well as temperature based on the amount of people using the space.

Rain sensors

A rain sensor is a device which is activated by rain. A rain system has openings which open wider when it rains to absorb more water and use it to automatically water vegetation.

Rain Sensors
Rain Sensors

Advantages

  • Eliminates the need for external supply of water.
  • Careful usage of available water.
  • Watering is done automatically. No need for manual intervention.
  • Indoor courts can also be watered automatically in a controlled manner.

Usage

Smart watering systems: Rain sensors can be connected to sprinklers or other irrigation systems to automatically collect, store and water vegetation when it rains.

Smart metering systems

A smart meter is a device which records all kinds of data related to energy consumption like voltage and current levels, usage and power factor.

Smart Metering Systems
Smart Metering Systems

Advantages

  • The recording is done automatically by the device itself.
  • Reading and recording is accurate.
  • Data for every hour and minute is stored.
  • Up-to-date information can be availed any time.

Usage

Responsible use of resources: Smart metering systems store data of the energy consumption down to every single minute. This makes users aware of their utilization and expenses.

Easy and accurate billing: Usually when we pay our bills, we have no idea about the amount of energy we consumed. This aspect is eliminated by using smart monitoring systems.

Drip Irrigation System

Drip irrigation system is a system wherein water and nutrients are allowed to drip slowly from pipes directly to the plant’s roots or the soil above it.

Drip Irrigation System
Drip Irrigation System

Advantages

  • Doesn’t need manual intervention.
  • Vegetation can be watered automatically even when users are absent from the site.
  • Reduced and careful water usage compared to other means.

Usage

Controlled supply: Using drip irrigation systems to water vegetation uses less water than watering with pipes or done manually.

Prevents erosion: Since water is let to drip down slowly, the top soil layer is not washed away by force.

Low flush systems

Low flush system uses much less water than a regular full flush system with the help of a specially designed cistern.

Low Flush System
Low Flush System

Advantages

  • Consumes less water than a full flush system.
  • Can be connected to water recycling systems.
  • Less or no water is needed from the municipal supply.
  • Since flushing uses most water, water bills are significantly reduced.

Usage

Reduced water usage: Low flush systems use less water for flushing. This water can also be obtained by recycling already used water.

Regenerative lifts

When an elevator goes up with light load and down with heavy load, more energy is produced than used. Regenerative lifts capture this energy rather than letting it go to waste as heat.

Regenerative Lifts
Regenerative Lifts

Advantages

  • Energy consumption by lifts is reduced.
  • Energy is also generated instead of going waste in the form of heat.

Usage

Less energy consumption: Lifts in general use 80% less energy compared to other active vertical transports. Regenerative lifts further reduce this, and even produce energy. 

Water recycling systems

Water recycling systems are systems which reuse and reclaim used or runoff water to satisfy the building needs. Rainwater and greywater recycling systems are some examples.

Water Recycling System
Water Recycling System

Advantages

  • Water consumption is reduced
  • Dependency on municipal water supply is brought down.
  • As a consequence, money spent on water bills is less.

Usage

Recycling water: Once water is recycled and filtered thoroughly, it can sometimes even be used for drinking.

Reusing water: If the water cannot be pure enough to be used for our daily activities, it can still be stored and used for flushing purposes.

Examples

The Edge, Amsterdam

The Edge is a 15 storey smart office building in the Netherlands. While also being extremely climate responsive, the building uses cutting edge technology to reduce energy consumption. It is considered the most sustainable office building in the world.

The Edge, Amsterdam by PLP Architecture
The Edge, Amsterdam by PLP Architecture
  • Water recycling: Rainwater is captured and stored underground which will be used for flushing toilets and watering plants in the interior and exterior gardens.
  • PVC devices: The solar panels create more electricity than the building uses.
  • Sustainable lighting: Super-efficient LED panels were made by Philips specifically for the Edge.
  • Sensors: The panels on the ceiling are packed with motion, light, temperature, humidity, infrared sensors to switch on and off the services provided in each room based on requirements.
  • Smart metering: Central dashboards are installed to track everything including the energy usage of the building. It even automatically shuts down huge sections of the building when less people are present.
  • Sustainable thermal system: The Edge has the most efficient aquifer thermal energy storage in the world.
  • Temperature control: Users can use an app on the phone to control temperature in their cubicle.

Due to the rising population, energy requirements have increased exponentially. As a result, the rates of these resources skyrocketed. Therefore, reducing the dependency of our design on these resources should take priority.

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