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A recent dynamic simulation exercise for a client has highlighted the importance of early consideration of a “joined-up” building services and fabric strategy. This ensures an optimised heating solution delivers comfort and acceptable running costs.

The use of our dynamic simulation energy modelling software greatly improved the accuracy of this process over standard SBEM compliance modelling.

We have been working with McCarthy & Stone on a Later Living facility in Newton Abbott.  The predominantly new-build development will also incorporate the use of two existing buildings to be refurbished and used as a residents’ lounge, guest room and laundry area.  We were asked to recommend an energy efficiency strategy that would enable the electric underfloor heating strategy used elsewhere in the development to be incorporated into these solid-stone walled buildings with floor to ceiling heights of up to seven metres.

Any electrically heated space requires high levels of energy efficiency to ensure heating costs are kept to a minimum.  In refurbishment projects this requirement must be balanced with the need to retain existing features, minimise floor space losses and avoid excessive floor level changes due to insulation.

Using our dynamic simulation software, we modelled the buildings and worked with the client to develop a solution that would provide acceptable running costs alongside a practical insulation strategy.  Key recommendations that emerged included:

  • The use of high performance internal wall insulation which exceeds Part L2B standards with minimum loss of floor space
  • The use of calcium sulphate screed in order to maximise the floor insulation thickness without exceeding acceptable floor thicknesses
  • A heating control strategy focussing on maintaining acceptable temperatures at room operative height in the areas with high ceilings
  • A peak-heating load based on steady state heat loss calculations to guide the specification of underfloor heating.

By using dynamic simulation software, we were also able to estimate annual running costs more accurately than by using SBEM compliance modelling.  This enabled more informed decisions to be made on the relative benefits of each measure.

This exercise revealed the importance of considering building services and fabric design together at an early stage of design when refurbishing existing buildings.

Posted on February 25th, 2013