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Water wall as instrument of energy conservation

Introduction

Since the government implemented the Code for Sustainable Homes, house designers have been focused on the aspect of sustainability. They aim at reducing the ultimate environmental impact that results from the construction sector. The code, therefore, has helped establish the foundation for future regulations in construction especially for those that relate to the emission of carbon dioxide as well as domestic energy use. The council aims at introducing a step-change in terms of home sustainability. As such, Coed Darcy project will utilize standardized design elements to enable the houses to fall under the national standards for home sustainability.

As a basis for future home development, the Coed Darcy project will be undertaken with the view of reducing carbon emissions in homes, a situation that necessitates enhanced regulatory certainty. In recent times, the issue of environmental awareness has been a key demand for the occupants and potential owners. As such, there has been an increase in demand of sustainable products. Sustainability has been among the main aspects that distinguish developers, especially in council housing projects.

The initial units of Coed Darcy project are aimed at inspiring exemplary achievement, greater innovation, and continuous improvement during the construction of the remaining housing units. The construction company ought to assess the work in an endeavor to improve environmental awareness. It should incorporate the measures that address the aspects of water and energy/CO2. The aspects of water and energy efficiency should be clear to enable those who wish to occupy the homes estimate the running costs of the buildings.

Although compliance with the Code for Sustainable Homes is, currently, voluntary, there may be a strict enforcement in the future, a situation which would ultimately label homes as unsuitable for inhabitancy. For instance, in order to minimize carbon emission, there should be an architecture defining the process of collecting, storing, distributing, and controlling the flow of energy through natural means of mass and heat transfer. This would enable the occupants to utilize natural energy as opposed to reliance on fossil energy sources in their domestic activities. Natural energy has been proved to be the best method of facilitating sustainability in the indoor environment. They enable a homeowner to regulate temperature, air movement, as well as humidity in the house.

benefits

The contemporary design of buildings contributes into severe environmental challenges. These challenges results from unrestrained consumption of natural resources in an endeavor to meet cleaning, cooling, and cooking demands. In fact, in developing countries like India, electricity consumption in homes and offices accounts to more than 20 percent of the entire production. A significant portion of this energy is generated through the consumption of fossil fuels. As such, constructing buildings in a manner that meets the occupants’ requirements for visual and thermal comfort reduces resource and energy consumption significantly. One of the strategies for reduction includes the incorporation of solar passive techniques so as to reduce dependency on fossil fuels. For a building to be regarded as energy efficient, it needs to balance every aspect of energy consumption. In this case, there should be efficient heating and lighting.

Coed Darcy Council Housing Project

The council housing project in Coed Darcy is set to occupy a site whose size is over 400 hectares. Council houses or local authority homes are social housing services that are built and operated the local councils. The councils invest in these homes so as to provide city residents with spacious and conducive housing at an affordable amount of rent. They primarily focus the members of the working class who wish to live in suburban estate blocks. Formerly, the site that Coed Darcy project is set to occupy was home to a giant oil refinery, a situation which makes the council skeptical of environmental friendliness of the redevelopment initiative. As such, the inhabitants of the industrial town of Neath would welcome any move which is aimed at promoting the reduction in carbon emission in their localities while providing enough water for domestic consumption. The choice of St. Modwen Developments was a major step forward as the company possesses the resources and expertise to undertake engagements associated with the regeneration of the brown-field land. The company, therefore, need to incorporate the idea of reducing carbon emissions as it transform the site into an environmental friendly urban village.

Demonstration units need to be impressive enough for the stakeholders continue their support for the project. Achievement of low carbon emission requires the design to incorporate a tight thermal gasbag, passive solar, heat recovery ventilations, PV arrays, solar thermal as well as efficient utilization of water walls. These design components would enable the homes to achieve a net zero energy utilization, thereby reducing the need for over-reliance on fossil fuels. If properly harnessed, sunlight can produce ample heating, lighting, and shading. These capabilities may be utilized in the creation of summertime ventilation in well-designed houses. In addition to reducing cooling and heating energy bills, passive solar designs increases spatial vitality, a situation which improves comfort to the inhabitants. Moreover, such designs lower the risks associated with home maintenance.

Passive Design and Renewable Energy

Heating through solar began in the ancient times. Science and technology have been effective in ascertaining the utility of solar energy in the modern household heating. Solar passive architectures facilitate thermal regulation in a manner that enhances comfort in an indoor environment. The architecture is defined as the process of collecting, storing, distributing, and controlling the flow of energy through natural means of mass and heat transfer. In essence, it refers to the utilization of natural energy as opposed to reliance on fossil energy sources. Natural energy has been proved to be the best method of facilitating comfortable indoor environment. They enable a homeowner to regulate temperature, air movement, as well as humidity in the house.

The contemporary design of buildings contributes to severe environmental challenges. These challenges results from unrestrained consumption of natural resources in an endeavor to meet heating, lighting, cooling, and ventilation demands. In fact, in developing countries like India, electricity consumption in homes and offices accounts to more than 20 percent of the entire production. A significant portion of this energy is generated through the consumption of fossil fuels. As such, constructing buildings in a manner that meets the occupants’ requirements for visual and thermal comfort reduces resource and energy consumption significantly. One of strategies for reduction includes the incorporation of solar passive techniques so as to reduce dependency on fossil fuels. For a building to be regarded as energy efficient, it needs to balance every aspect of energy consumption. In this case, there should be efficient heating, lighting, and ventilation.

Cost Benefit Analysis

With passive solar designs, builders reduce the reliance on mechanical heating and cooling. Instances of artificial lighting during daytime are also reduced to the minimal. As such, St. Modwen Developments need to design the houses in a manner that utilizes renewable sources of energy for much of their heating and cooling. While reducing complexity, the company needs to utilize its expertise in solar geometry so as to incorporate window technology in a manner that exploits the local climate. Effective exploitation would, therefore, facilitate the heating, cooling, and ventilation whenever necessary.

One of the greatest achievements in energy conservation has been a water wall. Its innovation was inspired by the high oil prices in the international market. Designers, homeowners, and builders had hoped to increase energy efficiency through the utilization of renewable fuels for cooling and heating their homes. They endeavored at utilizing building elements that collect and retain solar energy for a substantial amount of time. Passive solar designs possess unique features that make them preferable to active systems. Passive solar designs utilize climatic resources in the provision of energy for heating, ventilation, and cooling. They are not dependant on auxiliary energy sources. Additionally, they are cheap, simple, and installable on structures without the requirement for special equipments.

Water walls refer to the utilization of water as the thermal mass in a passive solar design. Utilization of passive water wall design has been the most attractive development. Water provides the required thermal mass at a cost lower than phase change salts and concrete. Water walls are easy and economical to install on new constructions. They have proved to be more effective in cooling and heating as compared to masonry, especially in localities where night temperatures are cool. As compared to phase change storage, water walls prove to be more flexible as they can be applied in heating as well as in cooling. Furthermore, they do not have a critical operating temperature. As opposed to concrete, water walls are disguisable and occupy smaller space. They have proved to be extremely comfortable as they possess a large radiant exposure on the inside. When need arise, water walls are retrofitted easily and economically.

The process is categorized into three techniques: isolated gain, direct gain, and indirect gain. Direct gain refers to radiation that is directed and stored in a living space. Indirect gain concentrates solar radiation before distributing it through the use of a unique thermal storage medium. Through convention, radiation, and conduction, the energy can be transferred or used for heating and cooling of a home. Isolated gain designs facilitate the collection of solar radiations at a selectively sealed location. The radiations are then utilized in the house as the need arises. As pointed out in the introduction, effective application of passive solar design is an age-old technique. The current technology can, therefore, improve on the earlier gains so as to make modern residential buildings safer and environmental friendly.

Solar oriented designs require expertise and availability of resources. Additional costs are incurred in the installation of additional glazing and thermal mass, roof overhangs, as well as the shading features. However, passive solar designs save the place required for mechanical cooling and heating fixtures. As such, the builders can realize accrued savings through the reduction of installations, unit size, as well as maintenance and operational cost. In this regard, the initial exorbitant cost should not hinder developers from implementing their structural designs. In fact, a cost-benefit analysis indicates that solar oriented designs lower annual maintenance and energy costs of structures.

Coed Darcy would also need adequate infrastructure to facilitate water conservation. Among the infrastructure that Coed Darcy would need are a properly structured water management cycle, rainwater tanks, bioremediation, separation of grey, black, and stormwater, no portable water use in construction sites and wetland retention equipment. In urban planning, Coed Darcy could embrace multiple uses of open spaces and ensure that the stormwater is reused. In addition, it could adopt a water sensitive urban design, while incorporating aesthetic value into the open space areas that use the stormwater drainage and manage the water cycle. The quality of water could be improved by treating the stormwater.

Coed Darcy can successfully implement its strategies in water conservation by harvesting rainwater, integrating several water management technologies, using water-friendly appliances in toilets and bathrooms and retaining the stormwater within the lot boundary. This can be further promoted by considering the implementation of construction site management plans. The management plans include using mulch to reduce the amount of water used in flowerbeds and vegetable gardens, sweeping sidewalks to minimize the amount of water used in washing and control the blockage on drain ways. This also reduces pollution of water that goes through storm drains. Pools and hot tubs should also be covered to minimize water that is lost through evaporation. If these aims are to be achieved, the infrastructure used in collecting water must be kept in a good condition. The water gauge, collecting tanks and drainage ways should be maintained in a good condition such that they do not leak and pose a threat to the users.

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Benchmarking

Solar oriented designs vary from one building to another. Regional climate may also form part of the variation. Nevertheless, the strategic goal remains the same in all instances. They are aimed at minimizing heat gain in summer while maximizing the gain in winter. According to research studies, much of the domestic energy bills result from thermo-regulation. As such, designing a passive solar design for a house would help lower the bills. Moreover, the need for fossil fuels would reduce a situation which would facilitate the reduction of carbon dioxide emission.

There are unique techniques that would enable St. Modwen Developments to achieve the goal of constructing environmental friendly structures. First, the company needs to begin the application of energy-efficient strategies in regulating temperature in a home. Their housing structure ought to be oriented with the east/west axis, i.e. the long axis. Furthermore, the builders need to conduct an effective selection, orientation, and sizing of water walls in a manner that optimizes winter heat gain while minimizing the heat gain during the summer season. In this regard, designers ought to evaluate the need of selecting varying water walls depending on their intended location. Similarly, they need to size the southern-facing overhangs in a manner that shades windows during summer. They should also provide additional thermal mass for the floors and walls so as to facilitate heat storage. The application of natural ventilation reduces the need for artificial cooling, a situation which facilitates energy conservation.

Passive solar structures ought to be adequately sealed and insulated. Having cooling reduces the heat gain and loss, the rest of energy loads is effectively dealt with through passive solar techniques. There are several approaches that can be utilized in an endeavor to minimize and heating loads. The approaches include the use of recommended insulation levels, proper installation of insulations, and the use of advanced framing guidelines. These strategies facilitate the reduction of duct losses as well as the tightening of the structural envelops.

The builders must ensure that they consider all issues relating the site orientation. The southern exposure of their structures ought to be clear of any large obstacle. As such, tall trees should be cut or trimmed so as not to block the sunlight. Southern exposure has been found to be optimal in maximizing solar contribution to a dwelling. To maximize these gains, builders should ensure that their structures face within 30 degrees of due south.

Interdependencies

The effectiveness of water as a thermal mass is influenced by a number of factors. For instance, utilization of the solar energy requires a construction to allow sunshine through its water walls. Constructors of Coed Darcy’s houses ought to utilize glasses with unique properties that allow the passage of sunlight while trapping the long-wave radiation outside. This would help in keeping the house warm, a situation that is commonly referred to as the greenhouse effect. Nevertheless, builders may face the challenge of sizing the southern-facing water wall in their endeavor to balance heat loss and heat gain characteristics in a manner that prevents overheating. Increasing the water wall area beyond the optimum increases a building’s energy loss. Of late, there have been technologies that lessen concerns for heat loss. These technologies include the application of selective heating, a strategy that enables the structure to retain the heat as required.

In heating clime, it is advisable to reduce the area of water walls on northern-, eastern-, and western-facing walls. The reduction should, however, allow adequate natural lighting. For effectiveness, southern-facing water walls need to be constructed using glasses that possess the right Solar Heat Gain Coefficient, SHGC. As such, SHGC should at least be 0.60 as this value maximizes the heat gain. A modest U-factor, say of, at most, 0.35, facilitates the reduction of heat transfer through conduction. This indicates the importance of selecting a glass with the right SHGC and U-factor. The glass should also possess a high visible transmittance so as to ease the transfer of visible right.

In cooling clime, constructors should preference the application of northern-facing water walls. In such a case, the southern-facing water walls should be shaded. A constructor may also consider shading overhangs, solar window screens, and shutters. Such shading would lower heating on the water wall. Constructors should select glasses whose U-factor is below 0.4. Furthermore, the glass’s SHGC should not be greater than 0.55. Constructors follow the recommendations provided by Efficient Windows Collaborative as much as possible.

In a cold climate, southern water walls are oriented through a strategy referred to as sun-tempering. The strategy facilitates a glazing area of at least 7% of the entire floor of a building. Southern-facing water walls may be enhanced through the addition of thermal mass. Such shifting of walls achieves great successes in cold climates with little additional costs. Several passive solar homes have been reaping the benefits of proper planning.

During the summer, the sun rises to greater heights than in winter. As such, constructors should utilize carefully sized glass overhangs so as to optimize the southerly shading and heat gain. Their design should allow the shading of water walls during the summer and clearing during winter so as to facilitate the interior warming. Effective landscaping facilitates the shading of southern- eastern-, and western-facing water walls from heat gain during summer. Another strategy would be the utilization of deciduous trees. When mature, deciduous trees allow much of the winter sunlight through while barring the summer rays from reaching the house.

Thermal mass constitutes the integral portion of the passive solar design. Materials like water, wallboard, masonry, and concrete are utilized for absorbing heat during the day with the goal of releasing it as the temperature drops. This facilitates the dampening of extreme weather conditions in a manner that reduces the use of fossil fuels. In this regard, optimum glass-to-mass ratio is utilized in the reduction of overheating while minimizing energy consumption. In such extreme conditions, builders and homeowners should limit the use of coverings that reduce thermal mass transfer and absorption.

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Proper ventilation cools a house without the need for mechanical thermal-regulation. This is especially so in cases where shading, window selection, and insulation have already reduced the cooling load. A homeowner may be advised to open the windows at night so as to flash his home with cooler air. In such a case, closing shades and windows during the day reduces the necessity for supplementary cooling.

There are several ways of heating water for domestic purposes. Of late, utilization of solar thermal energy has been gaining popularity amongst constructors and homeowners. Cost-benefit analysis has facilitated the application of active as well as passive solar heating technologies. The application of these technologies is dependent on the climatic conditions in a location. Passive solar water heaters do not utilize electrical or pumps. The strategy has proved to be cost-effective especially in climatic zones with shorter sub-freezing and cloudy atmospheric conditions. There are appropriate water heating technologies for every location. Structural designs for active solar water heating have proved cost-effective and sustainable in the long run. There are design strategies that incorporate photovoltaic cells in their heating.

Conclusion

St. Modwen Developments aims at constructing zero net energy buildings so as to facilitate reduction in greenhouse emissions. Zero energy buildings do not require energy supply from the grid for them to be habitable. Energy is harnessed on-site through a unique arrangement of wind and solar technologies. These technologies reduce the ultimate utilization of energy for heating and lighting. The zero-energy buildings appeals due to the high cost of fossil fuels as well as their negative impact on the environmental and ecological balance. In the United States, traditional households consume 40 percent of all fossil energy in the country. Minimizing the reliance on such sources of energy would help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. One of the strategies of reducing this reliance is the passive design.

Passive designs that utilize water walls have been proved effective in cooling and heating of homes. However, their cost, performance, and configuration vary as par their intended goals. Nevertheless, they all have multiple characteristics in common. The features include glazing for admitting energy from the sun as well as insulating shutters. They facilitate the reduction of unnecessary heat gains and losses through glazing. The walls utilize water as their thermal mass. To facilitate cost-effectiveness in passive heating the house should be well insulated as to be weather tight. It should be oriented with water walls on its southern portion. Constructors ought to ensure that they utilize the minimum level of glazing so as to maintain an optimum level of heating.

While constructing new buildings, constructors need to ensure that their designs are super-tight and super-insulated. While constructing the floor, the appropriate volume of water per square foot will depend on the prevailing climatic condition. By default, constructors utilize 3-8 gallons of water per square foot on the southern-facing glass. If the builders aim at night time cooling, utilizing extra volumes of water proves to be helpful. For a household to store an optimum amount of energy for heat regulation, constructors ought to add the appropriate amount of thermal mass in the retrofit. This water ought to be placed within the reach of the sun rays. Water is preferable as compared to stone or concrete as it is dynamic. This facilitates heat gain in winter and heat loss in summer.

Water walls are thermal storage components that are made up of water drums stacked behind glass. At times, it is painted black so as to enhance heat absorption. The wall has been recognized as an effective way of regulating indoor temperature. During summer, overheating of water walls is prevented through the application of shading. The application of water walls and other passive solar heating designs has reduced the need for fossil fuels. Such a reduction would be highly appreciated by the stakeholders of Coed Darcy as they have witnessed the environmental effects of fossil fuels.

Preservation and conservation presents several advantages to members of the community. Although civil engineers are mandated with ensuring that water is, environmental friendliness can only be attained by the cooperation between the community and/or consumers and the engineers. This can be achieved by the community education programs in which the engineers teach the community members how to conserve water in a cost-effective manner. The engineers can further manage the water demand and link back to the ecosystem. This can also be achieved by using a variety of approaches in conserving water, for example making drainage pipes. Coed Darcy intends to form the internal drainage systems that are connected to the water treatment and purification units so that it is reusable in any specified domain. Water sources can also be preserved; for example, by using the taps that have different levels of water release depending on the intended use.

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