In 2009 energy in buildings (heating/cooling & lighting) accounted for 43% of primary energy supply. Carbon emissions associated with new buildings are being reduced by the increasing stringency of building regulations. It is, however, the retrofitting of existing buildings for minimum carbon emissions throughout their expected lifetime that poses the biggest challenge at this time and it is this challenge that the Carbon Neutral Building Project aims to address.
A building’s lifetime can be divided into three phases, the construction phase, the operational phase and the deconstruction phase. The Carbon Neutral Building Project is focused primarily on the operational phase and on the reduction of carbon emissions during this phase.
The Carbon Neutral Building Project has already overseen the renovation of two existing buildings within the UCC campus. Pre-retrofit monitoring of the buildings was carried out to monitor energy usage and post-retrofit monitoring is ongoing to develop an energy usage database for these buildings.
Thermal modelling, using exact building physics, will provide more detailed results for both the pre-retrofit and post-retrofit buildings. Measured and modelled data collectively, will facilitate an accurate comparison of both the pre-retrofit and post-retrofit models. While an initial evaluation of the internal climate and the thermal physics of the building can be made, the research will also facilitate the evaluation of alternative improvements. This shall lead to the development of a methodology for existing-building upgrades to advance the buildings towards being carbon neutral.