Buildings account for over 40% of energy consumption in Europe, of which around 75% are not energy efficient. This illustrates the importance of obtaining sustainable development certificates for both newly-developed and existing buildings. Their energy efficiency is assessed based on modeling and energy simulations. However, so far, there has not been any analysis regarding the actual energy consumption of a building: what is the impact of the implementation of innovative systems, appropriate management, specifications and the expected level of the users’ comfort on the building energy performance? These issues have been thoroughly addressed in the first study in Europe, conducted by Skanska, Go4Energy and Cushman & Wakefield, which analyses office buildings in Poland.
The “Energy consumption in office buildings” report is a result of mutual co-operation of specialists from three areas of expertise: an experienced developer of office buildings - Skanska, experts in environmental certification - Go4Energy, and property managers from advisory firm Cushman & Wakefield. The project’s partners analysed data from 20 office buildings in Poland, including 16 buildings holding LEED or BREEAM certification.
“In recent years, we have been gathering a great deal of data on how our buildings perform. In order to test the efficacy of our designs and their functionality, it was necessary to compare the operation of our buildings with other office buildings in Poland. But we found that no comparative analyses of this type existed. In response, Skanska and our partners, Go4Energy and Cushman & Wakefield, have put together a comparative analysis covering a number of buildings in the Polish office market, looking at them in terms of their features, age and environmental specification”, explains Waldemar Olbryk, Director for Support Functions at Skanska.
The research underlined the importance of tenant-users in the energy consumption of a building. For the first time, thanks to the applied calculation methods, it was possible to separate the energy consumption of tenants from a building’s total energy consumption.
“To date when designing energy models, tenants’ activities have not been taken into account. In the analyzed buildings, the share of electrical energy consumed by tenants in the building’s overall energy balance ranged from 14% to 65%. That was the starting point for establishing a new method of evaluating the building energy performance. It allowed to separate the energy used by a tenant from the building's overall energy consumption”, explains Piotr Bartkiewicz, Partner at Go4Energy.
This method has shown that, through proper operation and maintenance, even older buildings, by employing principles of sustainable construction, can attain energy efficiency levels that surpass the existing standard and create both a healthy, comfortable environment for users and an energy-efficient, lower-cost profile.
“The greatest amount of energy savings, 32%, was seen for buildings constructed within the past six years, which confirms the viability of solutions when applied at the building’s design and construction stage. By using facility management techniques, we are now able to identify areas where energy consumption is excessive or energy is used inefficiently, and adjust the relevant parameters appropriately”, comments Zuzanna Paciorkiewicz, MRICS, Partner, Asset Services at Cushman & Wakefield.
The report shows that only close collaboration between the project teams and property managers and technical staff will guarantee an energy-efficient building. The analysis is a pioneering study and will facilitate the development of better energy management systems for buildings, as well as refine the use and management of existing installations. The next step in designing energy efficient office buildings is to utilize the knowledge gathered in the report. Thanks to the analysis of the lifecycles of existing buildings, the process of improving the prototypes during the realization of further development projects will become easier. The report also serves as a useful tool in tenants education, as it clearly describes the advantages of construction in line with sustainable development principles. This analysis is the first of many and will be supplemented with further data. It will enable to conduct a full energy analysis of each office building and compare their operational parameters against the values achieved by already evaluated schemes.