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Is it enough to install photovoltaic panels to deliver a sustainable building ?

Tuesday 5 July 2011, by admin

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These are the type of questions designers, builders, local authorities and anyone involved in designing constructing and evaluating sustainable buildings often have to address.

There is no straightforward response. Sustainability must be evaluated as a function of a number of criteria; energy is one of the principal elements, but there are several other factors which contribute to the environmental balance sheet, for example water consumption, materials selection, and integration into the landscape to name but a few.

Furthermore, the same construction methods can produce different results depending on location. For example the use of certain technologies such as solar energy and wind turbines, allows sustainable criteria to be achieved by different means of implementation on the Mediterranean coast or in the British isles. Among the local aspects to consider, there are laws and regulations in operation which can demand or suggest particular standards or funding opportunities.

Among the project objectives for REGAIN, is the delivery in four different areas of North-West Europe (Scotland, Belgium, France and Wales) of four commercial/industrial buildings with high levels of environmental performance, in order to compare and make available the results of their experiences to the local, national and European communities.

To achieve this objective, the first stage of the project is the choice of a methodology which allows the assessment of the pilot buildings and to compare the individual levels of performance achieved.

In recent years, different methodologies for evaluating sustainable buildings have been adopted. Most of these are based exclusively on criteria relating to energy, and don’t consider these together with the wider aspects of environmental evaluation.

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