Building Energy Audits - opportunities for construction professionals to shine
It is a question that many clients would ask: why should we go through the trouble and costs involved in improving the energy rating of our property? Why put up with the mess of turning the home into a building site? What is this constant talk about air tightness? What is adequate insulation? and so on...
All these questions and more come to the mind of home and business owners before deciding to improve their buildings and we take out the drawing board and put on the design cap. Interestingly enough, the first fully functioning Passive House was a polar ship (not a house) called the Fram. F. Nansen wrote about it in 1893 “…The sides of the ship were lined with taned felt, then came a space with cork padding, next a deal panelling, then a thick layer of felt, next air-tight linoleum, and last of all an inner panelling. The ceiling of the saloon and cabins … gave a total thickness of about 15 inches… The skylight which was most exposed to the cold was protected by three panes of glass one within the other, and in various other ways… The Fram is a comfortable abode. Whether the thermometer stands at 22º above zero or at 22º below it, we have no fire in the stove. The ventilation is excellent, especially since we rigged up the air sail, which sends a whole winter’s cold in through the ventilator; yet in spite of this we sit here warm and comfortable, with only a lamp burning. I am thinking of having the stove removed altogether, it is only in the way.” (from Nansen: ‘In Farthest North’. The research ship Fram wasn’t conceived as a Passive House in the same sense as we know, of course, but the description of F. Nansen does fit with that of a modern Passive House.
In 1991 four private clients formed the ‘Developers Society Passive House’ and commissioned the architects professor Bott/Ridder/Westmermeyer with the planning of a row of houses with four flats, each with 156m2 of living space. The building was provided with a highly precise data measurement acquisition system to examine the achievement of objectives. After the low-energy house had already successfully been implemented, Wolfgang Feist and Bo Adamson followed up the idea of a “House without heating” in Central Europe. In 1991 under the direction of Wolfgang Feist the first Passive House project in Darmstadt Kranchstein was completed. The term “house without heating” is not 100% accurate as the Passive House also needs a heat generator for the small residual heat energy, but for heat distribution conventional radiators are not needed.
The main advantages of adopting the Passive House standards are as follows:
- A building standard, which is energy efficient, comfortable, economic and environmentally friendly at the same time. Passive House is not a brand, it is a building concept which is open to all – and which has proved itself in practice;
- The Passive House is the leading standard in energy savings in building worldwide: The energy saving for heating amounts to over 75% in comparison with the legally prescribed building standards. The heating costs are very small – high energy prices make no difference to residents of Passive Houses;
- Passive Houses achieve this enormous energy conservation using special energy efficient building elements and ventilation techniques.
- Comfort is not impaired, in fact it’s even perceptibly improved.
As a consultant of the Passiv Haus Institute for more than a decade I had the opportunity to put together design solutions for different types of buildings both new and retrofit. Every new challenge is an opportunity for our team to shine and test the skills and experience accumulated over more than 30 years.
I love my job because of the challenges that poses with every new project. I mainly enjoy the challenge of meeting a variety of demands my clients have. Each project has its challenges and requires that the entire construction team keeps abreast of the most up to date methods and systems of modern construction. On a personal note, my job gives me the opportunity to meet interesting people who challenge my knowledge and experience with their requirements. Each client is different and has diverse needs. There is where the challenge stands for every construction professional. In a competitive industry where businesses must show excellence and flexibility in order to cover a more generous slice of the market it is customer care that separates the winners from the losers.
Why would the average customer want to audit the energy efficiency of their homes? The first and one of the most important reasons is saving money on heating and electricity bills. The retrofit upgrades packages on offer at Voda-Forde Ltd are customised to the particular building and will slice your energy bill considerably, in some cases up to 75%. This is a considerable reduction. Our customers' savings provide the best marketing platform for the company. Voda-Forde Ltd has a variety of solutions designed to reduce electricity bills also. We implement long tested solutions to reduce costs for both residential and commercial buildings.
The professional team at Voda-Forde Ltd can provide customised solutions to suit every customer’s needs and budget. We provide advice to customers backed up by full computations showing long term savings and recovery period for the initial costs. As a customer in a competitive market we believe that it is your entitlement to have a voice and use it to express your needs. It is the role of the professional consultant to listen to these needs and, using acquired skills and experience, to provide a choice of options to solve the matter and assist the optimization or upgrade of the property.
It is time for all experts and consultants to understand that, the first rule in a competitive market is to listen to your client's needs, understand the limitations of the available options and use professional knowledge & expertise to provide best solutions to the technical challenges. The option selected must meet the cost and time parameters imposed by the project and be suitable for the particular design system.
So, if like us, you want to save some money on your energy bills, give us a call and we will come to the rescue. Our team gathers over four decades of construction experience and we will share this with you and offer the best option your money can buy. We believe that there are better ways to spend your money other than on heating or energy bills. So go on give us a call, the first quote is free of charge! Looking forward to hear from you.
Dr. Christina Voda-Forde
Managing Director Voda-Forde Ltd Cork.