Special Issue "Low Carbon Building Design"

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A special issue of Buildings (ISSN 2075-5309).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2014)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Alice Moncaster (Website)

Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 1TN, UK
Interests: embodied carbon and energy of buildings; socio-political impacts on sustainable construction; energy efficient retrofit and adaptation to future climates; timber and other bio-based construction materials

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The need to reduce carbon from buildings, new and existing, is becoming increasingly critical. The problem is complex: carbon is emitted from energy use during the operational phase of buildings, but also from the production of materials and from the construction, refurbishment, demolition, and end of life phases. There are multiple regulations, financial mechanisms, tools, and certification schemes designed to encourage carbon reduction. Within this framework, the carbon impact of a building is determined by individual and collective decisions taken by clients, designers, and contractors, and by the occupiers throughout the lifetime of the building. These decisions are also influenced, however, by individual and professional interpretations, values, and practices, as well as by the commercial, political, professional or other interests that influence the ways in which decision-makers understand and engage with the carbon reduction problem.

The Special Issue editors aim to represent the latest understanding of this complex interdisciplinary field by collecting together new research within the field and by crossing into different areas. Papers are sought concerning the impact and use of low carbon building materials and of building-scale renewable energy technologies; embodied carbon approaches and the latest developments in life cycle analysis of buildings; the effects of improved collaboration within design teams; best practice (“zero carbon”?) new build and refurbishment; the impacts of occupiers and the potential for behavioral change; the effective use of tools and assessment schemes; and the impacts, intentional and unintentional, of policies, financial mechanisms, and regulations. Papers that span the technical and social disciplines, and which develop an understanding of carbon emissions as an inherently socio-technical problem, are particularly encouraged.

Dr. Alice Moncaster
Guest Editor

Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Buildings is an international peer-reviewed Open Access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 300 CHF (Swiss Francs). English correction and/or formatting fees of 250 CHF (Swiss Francs) will be charged in certain cases for those articles accepted for publication that require extensive additional formatting and/or English corrections.

Keywords

  • energy efficiency
  • low/zero carbon
  • low carbon building materials
  • building-scale renewable energy technologies
  • embodied carbon
  • life cycle analysis
  • impacts of policies, regulations and financial mechanisms
  • tools for low carbon buildings
  • low carbon behaviours
  • science and Technology studies for the built environment

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial Pathways to Low Carbon Building: Reflection on the Special Issue
Buildings 2015, 5(3), 751-758; doi:10.3390/buildings5030751
Received: 18 June 2015 / Revised: 18 June 2015 / Accepted: 23 June 2015 / Published: 25 June 2015
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (211 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In 2014, this journal invited me to edit a special issue on low carbon building. We put out a call for papers that offered new perspectives, crossing boundaries between technical and social research approaches. The six papers selected and published have emanated [...] Read more.
In 2014, this journal invited me to edit a special issue on low carbon building. We put out a call for papers that offered new perspectives, crossing boundaries between technical and social research approaches. The six papers selected and published have emanated from university departments and research centres of Engineering, Architecture, Energy, Design, Urban Planning, Environment, and Sustainable Building. Together they represent a unique and highly readable snapshot of the multiple approaches to this crucial issue—but they also do more; read as a whole they allow the reader to draw new conclusions about the way forward. This editorial draws together and reflects on the six papers, concluding with recommendations for urgent and vital actions for policy makers, professionals and academics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Low Carbon Building Design)

Research

Jump to: Editorial

Open AccessArticle Zero-Energy and Beyond: A Paradigm Shift in Assessment
Buildings 2015, 5(1), 1-13; doi:10.3390/buildings5010001
Received: 23 September 2014 / Accepted: 18 December 2014 / Published: 24 December 2014
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (446 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The world is on the eve of major changes in the way energy and material are used, and the building and construction sector is at the forefront. One of the revolutionary changes is that for 0-energy houses and buildings. Many countries already [...] Read more.
The world is on the eve of major changes in the way energy and material are used, and the building and construction sector is at the forefront. One of the revolutionary changes is that for 0-energy houses and buildings. Many countries already have some projects established, and legislation is following, first requiring near 0-energy, but undoubtedly this will evolve into 0-energy as basic requirement. Buildings will generate all required energy from within their building lot, from incoming free and renewable energy sources: solar radiation and earth core heat mainly. In other words, there are no polluting or depleting issues anymore related to energy consumed to operate a building. This will change the whole approach in evaluation and optimization of the environmental performance of buildings: while the energy-driven measures for buildings become obsolete, it will be materials needed for this transition that have to become the main focus, as argued in this paper. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Low Carbon Building Design)
Open AccessArticle Learning How to Use Buildings: An Exploration of the Potential of Design Interactions to Support Transition to Low-Impact Community Living
Buildings 2014, 4(4), 963-977; doi:10.3390/buildings4040963
Received: 18 July 2014 / Revised: 28 October 2014 / Accepted: 6 November 2014 / Published: 27 November 2014
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (237 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this paper, I study how a housing project is designed and show the architects in conversation with the residents talking about living in a community with lower impact, to reveal different conceptual understandings of building technologies and systems within the home. In [...] Read more.
In this paper, I study how a housing project is designed and show the architects in conversation with the residents talking about living in a community with lower impact, to reveal different conceptual understandings of building technologies and systems within the home. In this account, it can be seen that building systems and technologies become entangled with dwelling, patterns of living and maintenance scenarios on a housing estate. Shown are several ways that these design interactions can be considered pedagogic and transformative. It is proposed that similar events between architects and users are established in the design stage for other building types and for more of the UK housing stock. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Low Carbon Building Design)
Open AccessArticle The Influence of Energy Targets and Economic Concerns in Design Strategies for a Residential Nearly-Zero Energy Building
Buildings 2014, 4(4), 937-962; doi:10.3390/buildings4040937
Received: 26 August 2014 / Revised: 23 October 2014 / Accepted: 27 October 2014 / Published: 25 November 2014
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (1684 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Finding cost-optimal solutions towards nearly-zero energy buildings in accordance with the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) is a challenging task. In order to reach the 20-20-20 targets, EU energy policy has introduced new ambitious levels for the large-scale spread of nearly-zero [...] Read more.
Finding cost-optimal solutions towards nearly-zero energy buildings in accordance with the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) is a challenging task. In order to reach the 20-20-20 targets, EU energy policy has introduced new ambitious levels for the large-scale spread of nearly-zero energy buildings (nZEBs) and the concept of the cost-optimal level, defined as the energy performance level, which leads to the lowest cost during the estimated economic lifecycle of the building. Consequently, building design has begun a challenge involving both energy targets and economic concerns. The aim of this research is to analyze an example building of a new single family house, using the cost-optimal methodology, in order to define how energy and economic aspects influence the preliminary design phase of the project and, in particular, the choice of the performance features of some components of the project itself, such as envelope elements and systems. The impact on energy performances of different configurations for the building envelope and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems was assessed with the dynamic simulation software EnergyPlus. Finally, the costs of the different design scenarios were estimated, according to the European Standard EN 15459:2007 to establish which of them had the lowest global cost and, consequently, represents the cost-optimal level for the design configurations analyzed. In order to test the stability of the results obtained, different sensitivity analyses were carried out. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Low Carbon Building Design)
Open AccessArticle Reducing Carbon from the “Middle-Out”: The Role of Builders in Domestic Refurbishment
Buildings 2014, 4(4), 911-936; doi:10.3390/buildings4040911
Received: 29 July 2014 / Revised: 29 October 2014 / Accepted: 30 October 2014 / Published: 18 November 2014
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (554 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A three-year research project explored the evolving level of “building expertise” for low-carbon housing refurbishment in the UK and France. With a focus on “middle actors” and the evolution of professional practice, this paper reports on “middle-out” responses from the housing retrofit [...] Read more.
A three-year research project explored the evolving level of “building expertise” for low-carbon housing refurbishment in the UK and France. With a focus on “middle actors” and the evolution of professional practice, this paper reports on “middle-out” responses from the housing retrofit supply chain to top-down policies promoting low-energy retrofits of existing homes. The two countries have comparable long-term policy goals for CO2 emissions reduction, but there are important differences between their more immediate initiatives to achieve a step-change in activity in the housing retrofit market. Industry responses to these various policy signals were explored in a series of semi-structured interviews with builders involved in innovative, low-energy refurbishment projects. Drawing mainly on four case studies of innovative business models, the paper highlights innovative practices and processes being proposed and trialled by “middle actors” in the building industry. We describe middle-out implications of these innovative practices: upstream to policy makers, downstream to clients, and sideways across refurbishment providers and the retrofit supply chain. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Low Carbon Building Design)
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Open AccessArticle What Can We Learn from the Household Electricity Survey?
Buildings 2014, 4(4), 737-761; doi:10.3390/buildings4040737
Received: 22 July 2014 / Revised: 30 September 2014 / Accepted: 30 September 2014 / Published: 17 October 2014
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (778 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The reasons for high carbon emissions from domestic buildings are complex, and have both social and technical dimensions. At the same time, it is costly and very time-consuming to gather reliable data on energy use in the home. The authors had early [...] Read more.
The reasons for high carbon emissions from domestic buildings are complex, and have both social and technical dimensions. At the same time, it is costly and very time-consuming to gather reliable data on energy use in the home. The authors had early access to data from the Household Electricity Survey—the most detailed survey of electricity consumption in UK homes ever undertaken—which monitored 250 homes. The data enabled the authors to investigate a series of socio-technical questions drawn up by the UK Government: Why do some households use far more energy than average, whereas others use much less? What potential is there for shifting “peak load” so that electricity demand is more even through the day? Why is base load electricity use so high? The answers were seldom definitive, but statistical tests found significant correlations between high electricity use and social grade, large household size, unemployment and middle age; and between low electricity use and single-person households, small dwellings, and retirement. This paper draws out key findings from the work, and examines how these insights affect our broader understanding of carbon emissions from the built environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Low Carbon Building Design)
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Open AccessArticle Future-Proofed Energy Design Approaches for Achieving Low-Energy Homes: Enhancing the Code for Sustainable Homes
Buildings 2014, 4(3), 488-519; doi:10.3390/buildings4030488
Received: 8 July 2014 / Revised: 19 August 2014 / Accepted: 21 August 2014 / Published: 16 September 2014
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (550 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Under the label “future-proofing”, this paper examines the temporal component of sustainable construction as an unexplored, yet fundamental ingredient in the delivery of low-energy domestic buildings. The overarching aim is to explore the integration of future-proofed design approaches into current mainstream construction [...] Read more.
Under the label “future-proofing”, this paper examines the temporal component of sustainable construction as an unexplored, yet fundamental ingredient in the delivery of low-energy domestic buildings. The overarching aim is to explore the integration of future-proofed design approaches into current mainstream construction practice in the UK, focusing on the example of the Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH) tool. Regulation has been the most significant driver for achieving the 2016 zero-carbon target; however, there is a gap between the appeal for future-proofing and the lack of effective implementation by building professionals. Even though the CSH was introduced as the leading tool to drive the “step-change” required for achieving zero-carbon new homes by 2016 and the single national standard to encourage energy performance beyond current statutory minima, it lacks assessment criteria that explicitly promote a futures perspective. Based on an established conceptual model of future-proofing, 14 interviews with building practitioners in the UK were conducted to identify the “feasible” and “reasonably feasible” future-proofed design approaches with the potential to enhance the “Energy and CO2 Emissions” category of the CSH. The findings are categorised under three key aspects; namely: coverage of sustainability issues; adopting lifecycle thinking; and accommodating risks and uncertainties and seek to inform industry practice and policy-making in relation to building energy performance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Low Carbon Building Design)

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.


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