Retrofitting is good start for sustainability

At Construction Week’s Building Sustainability conference, experts from the retrofit industry shared how developers, owners and tenants can make simple changes to help make their buildings more sustainable

NEWS, Business, Construction Week’s Building Sustainability confer, Retrofitting

Small changes can make big differences in terms of sustainability, and retrofitting is an obvious and easy place to start.

During a panel discussion at Construction Week’s Building Sustainability conference, experts from the retrofit industry shared how developers, owners and tenants can make simple changes to help make their buildings more sustainable.

Cara Tissandier, Middle East sustainability group principal, Hoare Lea, explained how existing buildings can make energy and cost saving changes by simply educating their tenants and residents about how best to use existing retrofittings.

Something as simple as a sign explaining the difference between “full flush” and “half flush” on a lavatory will save costs as well as go some way to helping the environment.

And making sure existing fittings, such as air conditioning units and lighting, are working as they should be is a low cost way of improving buildings’ sustainability and the lifestyle and health and productivity of the people living and working in them.

But once those changes are made, how do you know they are making a difference?

“Looking at existing buildings and looking at ways we could reduce our energy rating, the big challenge we meet is that we can’t measure performance,” she said.

Recording energy use at building handover and monitoring it over the coming years is the only way to do this, but it is something that is not happening for existing buildings.

New buildings in Abu Dhabi must meet Estidama’s energy ratings and inspections will continue to be made annually to ensure they are maintaining standards, and if they are not, the rating will be lost.

This is a system which Tissandier says should be introduced across all buildings, but there are challenges.

What incentive do building owners have to check their properties are running as efficiently as they can be when fuel is so cheap?

“There’s a great opportunity here, if only we could inspire people,” said Tissandier. 

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