Legislations relating to low carbon technology and meeting carbon emission targets are constantly being drawn up in an attempt to tackle potentially irreversible climate change. As such, the job of engineering consultants has changed dramatically. These consultants are increasingly being asked to provide information on how projects can achieve zero carbon status or how existing projects can adhere to new policies. We take a look at the advice that engineering consultants might give in an attempt to meet targets for a greener future.

Property owners, both domestic and commercial are now required to provide an Energy Performance Certificate with the other legal documents such as deeds. The certificate, also known as an EPC rates the energy efficiency of a building and was introduced as a first step towards making property owners aware of the impact inefficient energy usage has on fuel bills as well as the climate.

The property is given an assessment and then given a rating according to how energy efficient it is. At present, the majority of the buildings in the UK are rated D, which is classed as inefficient. Engineering consultants are therefore suggesting ways that domestic and commercial buildings can be improved to achieve a higher rating and cut emissions. Of course, the designs for new buildings are being tailored to meet and exceed these recommendations by providing solutions that are designed to be carbon neutral.

Changing energy supplies to come from a sustainable source is one of the first recommendations that would be made for existing buildings. Although sustainable energy is not available through commercial sectors, it is possible to use wind turbines, solar panels and geothermal energy amongst others to provide enough energy for a single building or development.

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When this is combined with installing loft insulation, double glazing and energy efficient appliances, it is possible for a property to meet the zero carbon target. New developments on the other hand can use new designs developed by engineering consultants to produce a building that does not require any heating or air conditioning as the design itself can maintain a stable temperature.

These buildings often use smart technology to power any equipment in the building through placing photo voltaic panels on the exterior. Green housing developments have been known to combine these practices with a localised water treatment system whereby rainwater is harvested on site and treated nearby using biological processes such as reed beds.

The advice of engineering consultants is merging with environmental consultancy to produce an integrated discipline that views the construction industry and the environment as a whole, something that will be much needed in the years to come if we are to combat climate change.