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Sustainable and Efficient Buildings

A considerable amount of energy is used in the buildings sector, and this has been a growing environmental and economic concern in many countries. Around 40% of the world’s final energy is used for residential buildings sector, and mainly for building services.

The main objective of the Building Services strand of the UCD Sustainable Energy Community (SEC) is to increase the sustainable energy development in the UCD community in lines with national and international energy policy goals for achieving low-carbon energy systems in buildings.

This has led a growing number of countries to put in place policies to improve building energy performance. Insistent action is needed now across all countries to improve global average energy use per capita by at least 10% by 2025 using energy-efficient and low-carbon building technologies such as solar photovoltaic (PV) renewable electricity generation, integrating smart thermal and illuminance control systems, using high-efficient HVAC systems such as heat pumps, and more importantly awareness and behaviour of occupants in terms of energy consumption.

A proper design and engineering of building services such as building’s architecture and using properly sized and efficient HVAC systems can have considerable influence on the sustainability and energy demand of a building, as well as the health and wellbeing of its occupants. And more importantly, they will decrease the constraints on the electricity grid and help to decrease the CO2 emissions.

Safety, efficiency, and comfort encompass are the main branches of research and development of Building Services strand and each of them include sub-branches as follows:

Fig. 1 – Overview of the UCD campus

Safety                                                                                          

Daylight and artificial lighting.
Security and alarm systems.
Fire detection and protection.

Efficiency

Energy supply and use (daylight and artificial lighting, renewable energy, demand response)
Communications networks (smart control systems, user-friendly control systems)
Facade engineering (green facades, solar PV shading systems)

Comfort

Heating and ventilating.
Water, drainage and plumbing.
Air conditioning and refrigeration.

An important example of a potential project which can improve both the awareness and sustainability of the UCD community is integrating solar PV panels to generate electricity from sun and daylight. PV systems could be designed for different purposes and installed at different nominal capacities. A feasible project at the community scale could be installing solar PV chargers and batteries for charging small devices of UCD community and proving useful information on monitors on how a community can use free and clean energy for charging their devices or at a bigger scale to light up their homes and run their electric appliances, such as total electricity generated from solar panels, total amount of consumed electricity, total connected devices, total electricity stored in the batteries and reductions of CO2 emissions and primary energy savings.

Building services are the systems installed in buildings to make them comfortable, functional, efficient and safe for all occupants. They can include HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), lighting, ICT (information and communications technology), and so on. For this, building services play an important role in contributing to the design of a building.