Architecture and building services: the disjointed relationship

If buildings are to be low on carbon emissions and costs, then architects and building services need to work as a cohesive entity when designing and producing a building. Currently, there is a stark difference between buildings that have been designed to scrape through the compliancy tests, and those that have been designed to attain BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) awards, to achieve a carbon neutral performance standard. This demonstrates a clear divide between the wishes of the architecture and the necessity for practicality from building services. In order for the future of property development to reach the targets set by the government, there must be more cohesion between the different systems within construction.

What are the implications of ineffective architectural design?


A clear example of ineffective architecture is the overheating of buildings in the summer due to the glazing, used for aesthetic reasons. The end result of this architectural flaw is a widespread use of air conditioning units, limiting the low carbon potential of the building. Although it might be suggested that the solar energy potential could be substantial, the energy required to power the air conditioning units is much greater than that of the energy generating potential. These issues could be resolved with more cooperation between engineers and architects.

What challenges does the industry face?


Although there are clear solutions to these construction problems, it appears there is some reluctance towards changes in the industry; landlords tend to prioritise profitability of their building over its environmental impact. It is also suggested that there is a lack of understanding of building physics from those involved at the beginning stages of the building process, an unwillingness to change what is commonly done and there is a gap between skills and awareness.

The key to finding a solution to this pressing issue, is to increase the level of education and cohesion within the planning and building of structures. Without doing so, the continued production of buildings that harm the environment could have a significant impact.