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Safe, comfortable and energy efficient houses at the time of Coronavirus

By: , Posted on: July 29, 2020

The worldwide pandemic due to Coronavirus (COVID-19) has forced half of the planet’s population to stay at home for weeks. People have discovered or re-discovered the pleasure of staying home, reading, cooking, listening or playing music, watching movies, doing sports, as well as working and attending lectures. Houses have become multi-function places: schools, offices, cinemas, gyms, restaurants. Environmental comfort, reduced energy consumption as well as a broadband Internet connection have become more important than ever.

It is nowadays essential and crucial to live in comfortable, efficient, smart and safe houses: designers, engineers and architects will have to consider the possibility of future pandemics in the design of constructions.

Handbook of Energy Efficiency in Buildings – A Life Cycle Approach presents in-depth and updated information, with an interdisciplinar approach and contributions by highly reputed scholars, in order to collect the most significant points of view on the different topics in the field of efficiency and sustainability of buildings. The main focus of the book is on energy and environmental issues, which has significantly grown worldwide in the last decades.

Problems such as global warming, ozone layer depletion, and environmental pollution have gained the attention of researchers and policy makers.

Within this framework, the building sector plays a crucial role in the consumption of non renewable resources as well as in the release of emissions: in most industrialized countries buildings are responsible for up to 40% of total greenhouse gas emissions. This increase is due to two reasons: Buildings using only renewable energy or producing it are still a negligible number and the reconstruction of the building stock takes much longer than restructuring industrial facilities and means of transportation. Moreover, a huge number of buildings have been built in the last three decades in developing countries with limited attention to energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

 The extensive adoption of energy-saving measures in the building sector is therefore important to contribute significantly to the reduction of global warming, use of fossil fuels and air pollution in urban areas. As a matter of fact, some studies have demonstrated that the highest pecentages of Coronavirus infections and deaths have occurred in the most polluted areas of USA, Italy, France, UK and Spain 1,2,3.

In this context, it is important to distinguish new buildings from the existing ones. For instance, the European Union has issued various Directives to promote energy-efficient and sustainable buildings, in order to comply with the nearly Zero Energy Buildings (nZEB) standard, and legislators in other areas of the world have recently paid a lot of attention to the problem of sustainable buildings, introducing new standards and regulations to improve the energy and environmental quality of new buildings. If it is now possible to build energy and environmentally efficient new buildings, one of the most challenging issues is the renovation of existing buildings, which are usually characterized by lackluster performance.

Energy is not the only issue to improve the efficiency and environmental quality of buildings: materials and processes associated with the reduction of energy consumption may involve higher greenhouse gas emissions during the construction phase. For example, in order to reach the NZEB standard, significant quantities of insulating materials and of PV panels (whose production is energy demanding) are needed. For this reason the life cycle assessment (LCA) approach, which is the focus of this handbook, is extremely important in the design of energy-efficient buildings, since it is allows considering the entire life cycle of the building, avoiding shifting of energy and environmental burdens from one life stage to another.

In order to cover the above mentioned issues, the Handbook is organized in eight main Sections, each of them with several sub-sections.

The first section deals with recommendations and standards for efficient buildings: the well-established European and North American legislations are compared with the ones of emerging Asian countries.

The second section deals with the recent concepts of zero-energy and nearly zeroenergy buildings, and also with the consolidated concepts of passive houses and bioclimatic architecture. Various sustainability rating systems, which have gained a significant diffusion at the international level, such as LEED and BREEAM, are also presented, compared with national tools, and are critically discussed in this section.

The following section deals with LCA of building materials and components and of entire buildings. Standards, methodologies, tools, indicators and some case studies are presented in order to introduce the reader to the application and utilization of LCA procedures to the building sector.

An important section is dedicated to the various simulation tools which can be used for energy modeling of buildings. The main algorithms are presented and discussed and the main tools classified and described. Validation and calibration procedures are also presented. The different materials and technologies that can be used to optimize the energy performance of the building envelope are the main topic of a wide section. Innovative and advanced opaque insulating materials, characterized by a high energy and/or environmental performance, such as phase change materials, vacuum insulating panels, aerogel, recycled, and natural insulating materials, as well as innovative and advanced glazing materials, such as electrochromic, thermochromic, and selective coatings are presented. More complex and dynamic building components such as adaptive facades and cool roofs are also discussed.

A whole section is dedicated to building integrated plants. In order to reach the nZEB standard, buildings need to be characterized not only by highly efficient plants, but also by a significant integration of renewable energy systems.

Buildings are expected to become energy conversion systems, aiming at using the energy that they produce. Solar systems, ground source heat pumps, cogeneration plants, and efficient heating and cooling plants are some of the topics dealt with in this section. The section dedicated to building integrated plants includes a chapter on HVAC System Modeling and Dynamic Simulation, a topic which is nowadays important since these models can be used to reduce contamination in the built environment.

The last sections are dedicated to the increasing role of automation in buildings, in order to achieve a higher energy and environmental performance, and to the the energy refurbishment of existing buildings.

Methodologies for the energy audit of existing buildings as well as of urban areas are presented. Various technologies for energy-efficient building renovation are presented, including innovative ones, and a cost-benefit analysis of the building renovations is proposed.

As Editors, our goal is to offer readers the most current information on building efficiency available. Taken into practice, these principles will ensure not only higher efficiency, but also safer and health contious building designs for the future.

About the book

  • Presents a complete and thorough coverage of energy efficiency in buildings
  • Provides an integrated approach to all the different elements that impact energy efficiency
  • Contains coverage of worldwide regulation

The book is available now on ScienceDirect, need your own copy? Enter code STC320 when you order via the Elsevier store to save up to 30%

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