Energy

Ideas and tech can change things

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Whether it’s a creaky old house or a brand new, state of the art office block, the buildings we live and work in have a big impact on the environment.

The challenge to reduce this footprint is sizable. According to a recent report from the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction, International Energy Agency and the UN Environment Programme, building construction and operations were, globally, responsible for 36% of final energy use in 2018.

Published in December 2019, the Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction also stated that, worldwide, the sector accounted for 39% of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2018.  

It’s within this context that architects, designers and lawmakers are undertaking efforts to try to boost the sustainability of the built environment.

These efforts to “green” buildings can take many forms, from using sustainable construction materials to deploying energy efficient technologies such as automatic lighting and LED bulbs.

And while new buildings can be designed with sustainability and efficiency in mind, the reality is that a lot of the planet’s building stock is old.

The U.K., for example, is home to many in-use buildings that are over 100 years old. While these structures can be aesthetically striking, they can often be troubled by a raft of issues, from poor insulation and sub-standard ventilation to high maintenance costs.

Take the U.K.’s Houses of Parliament, in central London: One section of the estate, Westminster Hall,…



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