Guidebook for Designing very-low Energy consumption Buildings

Guidebook (1st draft) for Designing very-low Energy consumption Buildings

Content: Overview of the Content of this future Guidebook & its Introduction (rationale)

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Author: Olivier SIDLER - ENERTECH

September 2008

Introduction : Why publish this Guide?

The need to implement demand side management, the rational use of electricity, energy efficiency and renewable energy sources has become an obvious necessity today. Whilst this is evident to a majority of stakeholders, it raises an essential point: how do we go about making the leap from intention to action? How do we build low energy consumption buildings? More importantly, how do we design low energy buildings, buildings with few needs? A close look at secondary and tertiary education in France in climate control, mechanical and energy engineering has, for generations, been built on two basic principals:

1. Meet a need: heat, cool, provide hot water...

2. Spend as little money as possible

Somehow, the notion of meeting all needs with as little energy as possible was not included in these basic principals. Never. It was as though energy was always available. Recently, some courses have been developed to fill the need for education on the subject. Despite this, it will take many years for the traditional circle of climate control engineering professionals and educators to integrate the need for substantial energy economies. It is important to work quickly to change this situation that could endanger the goals of the national energy strategy defined in the Grenelle de l’Environnement.

In the past 25 years, French national policy has been very lacklustre in energy efficiency requirements, and close to overtly hostile when it came to developing renewable energy sources. Under the dominance of powerful industrial lobbying groups, France was not able to prepare for the inevitable future. Germany began developing the concept of ‘passive’ houses in 1991, when the barrel of petrol costed $10. Today German companies have a unique technical competence, and, based on their long experience, are now ready to face new technical challenges.

Here in France, no one has this knowledge or technical competence. We are lagging far behind, not only in terms of technical competence, but also in terms of motivation from several sub-sectors of the building industry.

The practical experience gained throughout 30 years of a professional working life completely dedicated to searching for energy efficiency in a country and time when the subject was ignored, the understanding of the real behaviour of buildings and their technical equipments, following dozens of measurement campaigns undertaken over the last 15 years (unique by their scope in the world), the precise vision of the design and construction phase of high performance low energy buildings in France based on more than a hundred of high energy performance construction projects managed as Assistant to Client or Master Builder, all this definitely constitute a collective good that this guide aims at giving back to the public.

The knowledge gained, even limited as it is, must be shared. It does not constitute the Truth itself but a first step towards it. This knowledge must be shared with others and not be kept for one’s self, since it is impossible alone to change the world as quickly as the situation we are facing regarding climate change demands. This the single ambition pursued here. This Guide does not pretend to be a comprehensive technical manual and isn’t a building thermal dynamics textbook. It seeks to reply to one very basic question “How to design a building and it’s technical equipments so as to minimise the buildings and users global energy consumption”

Practical common sense is the guiding thread in the following pages, using a methodology built over time and developed in response to a natural curiosity as to why and how buildings and machines work, and how to make them work better and more efficiently This Guide is no theoretical manual written by a doctoral researcher, it is a practical how-to, that proposes only the most pertinent and realistic solutions.

This Guide is only the beginning, it should, must, be added to, improved, completed by others. It must become a collective work for future generations to work on to pull us out of this one way spiral in which we are falling.

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