Delivering for Refurbishment

A significant proportion of Europe’s annual construction budget is spent on the repair and refurbishment of existing structures, buildings and facilities. Dave Taylor, Business Development Manager at Corus Colors, considers how, in the current economic climate, the benefits of refurbishment stack up as a viable option over and above new build.

Resource and budgetary restrictions are resulting in a rapid slowdown in the new build market, making the choice to refurbish rather than rebuild existing buildings a more viable option in the present climate – both financially and environmentally.

With the knowledge that buildings account for almost half of UK CO2 emissions, it comes as no surprise that the Government has been seeking to improve its energy efficiency. When we take into consideration government legislation, such as the Climate Change Bill, which will commit Britain to an 80 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050, there is more pressure than ever for the construction industry to address building energy performance first and foremost whether in context of new build or refurbishment projects.

There is no denying that a new building will be more energy and carbon efficient than a refurbished building on an annual ‘running costs’ basis. Nevertheless, this does not address the wider process which should also take into consideration that carbon emissions are generated during the manufacture of all the building materials, their transportation to site as well as delivery of the actual construction programme itself.

In the industrial, commercial and retail buildings sector, the benefits of refurbishment are clear. For a typical industrial ‘shed’, approximately 90 per cent of the building’s embodied energy is locked up in the floor slab and structure, whilst 10 per cent is accounted for by the envelope. If the envelope alone is replaced, by re-cladding for example, then huge savings are made in terms of embodied energy, when compared to new build. Not only this, but virtually all of the operational CO2 savings normally associated with new build can also be gained, by upgrading thermal performance, natural lighting levels and air tightness. The working environment for occupants is drastically improved, as is the aesthetic appearance of the building.

Illustrating what can be achieved with a committed refurbishment programme in terms of energy efficiency, the Jaguar Land Rover Academy in Warwick is a case in hand. It precisely demonstrates the environmental and economic benefits that refurbishment work can achieve, and demonstrates Jaguars commitment to reducing its carbon footprint both in terms of its manufacturing operations and its estates management.

In broad terms, the project brief involved the interior and exterior refurbishment of an existing 50,000sq ft building to create a bespoke new training academy that brings together two pre-existing individual facilities previously based at Castle Bromwich in Birmingham and Gaydon in Warwickshire. The finished automotive academy is one of the best-equipped facilities of its type, providing the very latest vehicles, components and systems for the students to work on.

The completed project hosts an array of energy efficient solutions, the most significant being the specification of 268m2 of SolarWall® perforated Transpired Solar Collector (pTSC) using Corus Colorcoat Prisma® in Aridane. This system alone will contribute to enabling the refurbished building to save more than 80,000kWh and an estimated reduction in CO2 emissions of 19 tonnes per year.

Manufactured by CA Building Products, SolarWall® is an innovative solar air heating system utilising the proven, renewable technology known as the perforated Transpired Solar Collector (pTSC). Installed as an additional skin to the southerly elevation of the Academy, SolarWall® harnesses solar radiation to heat ambient air via a perforated collector. Solar heated air is drawn from the external surface of the collector, through the perforations, before being distributed into the building where it is used to offset the buildings heating load and provide the necessary building ventilation requirement.

Alongside this, Colorcoat Prisma® pre-finished steel was chosen for the additional skin of the SolarWall® for its smooth, modern appearance backed by the 25 year maintenance and inspection free Confidex® Guarantee. Colorcoat® facilitates a far more streamlined construction process due to its flexibility, durability and ease of handling, enabling disruption to be kept to an absolute minimum for the building occupants whilst work is being carried out. Furthermore, when used as part of an insulated refurbishment solution, Colorcoat Prisma® offers significant improvements in thermal efficiency due to the high thermal insulation of the fabric which, when combined with the reduction in CO2 provided by the installation of SolarWall®, results in a truly sustainable building being delivered.

There are a number of energy efficient improvements that are cost-effective and can be made to existing commercial buildings. By applying these improvements, significant energy savings can be achieved as demonstrated at Warwick with the Jaguar Land Rover Academy. Refurbishing a building to current market standards achieves significant initial CO2 savings. Limited expenditure can reduce overall emissions by almost half enabling landlords and tenants to support a programme of more sustainable property occupation and management.

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