The death of air-conditioning breathes life back into shutters…

There was an interesting article in Building magazine this week ( written by David Strong, chief executive of Inbuilt, about the proposed changes to Part L of the Building Regulations and this years changes to the British Council for Offices ‘Guide to Specification’.

The building regulations proposed changes will be closing the loophole that has made it easier for fully air-conditioned commercial buildings to comply with building regs than more sensibly energy efficient buildings. A rediculous situation…

The change to the ‘Guide to Specification’ issued by the British Council for Offices has replaced the 22°C internal summer temperature limit with a more sensible approach of a design target for naturally ventilated and mixed mode offices of not more than 25°C for 55% of the occupied time and not more than 28°C for not more than 1%.

The next aim perhaps should be to encourage more architects to learn the lessons of both recent sustainable design and traditional designed buildings and adopt more passive solar control methods and natural ventilation systems for new residential projects – particularly high-end schemes where developers feel the need to add air-conditioning in the principal rooms seemingly without a thought for the carbon emissions created.

The article caught our eye as we are currently looking at an existing commercial building for a client who’s  initial brief was to introduce air-conditioning into the office spaces as the summer temperatures were too high. A quick look at the existing conditions revealed IT equipment left on, unlagged heating pipes, inefficient lighting left on during the day, windows kept shut during the day and passive shading on the south elevation unused (ie. the original architects 100 years ago had put shutters on the outside of the large windows and the current occupiers had thought they were purely decorative…).

Our recommendations for this project? Install efficient lighting on controls, lag hot water pipes, teach the staff how to use the shutters to cut out the summer sun and how to open the windows!