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Project Opportunities

Creating every possible positive impact at once is often not possible, either because of the nature of the project or time and money limitations. Firstplanit guides building projects by highlighting the most significant opportunities for typical project types and locations. Prioritise the largest opportunity or act on all.

Find materials to avail your opportunities

Further Details

Save Energy

Excessive energy use is directly linked with CO2 emissions because its traditional primary source is fossil fuels. Renewable sources like solar and wind are becoming more popular, but energy demand remains high at unsustainable levels. Renewables alone can't save the day, so installing and disposing of such systems consumes resources and creates waste. As we transition, energy efficiency in buildings is critical- operational and embodied energy of buildings and materials needs attention.

What can be done?

New buildings have multiple strategies at their disposal to reduce embodied and operational energy, but 80% of the buildings of the future are already built and must adapt. Small changes, such as low-tech and passive design methods, make a huge difference. Examples are size and location of windows, location of external door, adding exterior shutters. Small redecoration projects too have the opportunity to save energy by choosing low embodied carbon and low embodied energy products.

These are some strategies to consider:

  • Thermal Insulation in walls, roof and ground floor
  • Airtightness
  • Low U-value Windows
  • Add thermal blinds
  • Add exterior sun shading/shutters
  • Efficient artificial lighting
  • Harvest daylight
  • Energy-efficient heating systems
  • Energy-efficient cooling systems
  • Use energy-efficient appliances
  • Monitor electricity/gas
  • Automate your building systems/ devices
  • Power with Renewable energy
  • Switch to Green electricity provider
  • Select products that are transported using electric vehicles
  • Use materials with low embodied carbon
  • Use materials with low embodied energy

Improve Comfort and Wellbeing

People in the UK spend about 80-90% of their time inside buildings. Quality of lighting, sound, air and thermal comfort all have a measurable impact on human health and wellbeing. Covid-19 has bought the inside of buildings into the limelight. Every bit of investment in a building must make for a healthy environment inside it.

Air: Humans consume four times more air daily than food or water. Pollution is created both outsides, e.g. cars, factories etc., and inside buildings, e.g. mould, VOC, bacteria etc. Managing ventilation without sacrificing energy efficiency is a building's biggest challenge.

Thermal Comfort: Not just temperature but relative humidity plays a role in indoor comfort. Managing multiple comfort parameters require monitoring and adjustments with seasonal and daily variations, but a building's design must allow such tweaks.

Light: Exposure to natural daylight has proven health benefits for building occupants. It helps regulate the body clock, provides essential vitamins, improves productivity and can even help reduce signs of depression, including seasonal affective disorder.

Sound: Noise exposure can result in sleep disorders, increase stress and cause other biological effects leading to increased blood pressure and heart diseases. Noise management is essential for focus and mental wellbeing.

What can be done?

These are some strategies to consider:

  • Heating/cooling systems with comfort regulators (thermostats, sensors)
  • Humidity detection devices
  • Add thermal blinds
  • Thermal Insulation in walls, roof and ground floor
  • Harvest daylight
  • Quality of artificial lighting (devices for circadian rhythm, etc.)
  • Noise insulation + sound-absorbing surfaces
  • Use low noise appliances
  • Build with materials without harmful chemicals
  • Install easy to clean surfaces
  • Enhance Water Quality for drinking
  • Safe design for reduced mobility
  • Automate your home devices
  • Use materials with low VOCs
  • Moisture/mould-resistant materials
  • Install easy to clean surfaces
  • Extract pollutants, harmful chemicals and humidity out
  • Operable windows to ventilate
  • Mechanical ventilation if natural is not sufficient (lacking/ineffective windows, deep floor plans, polluted outdoor air, noisy outside)
  • Extract pollutants, harmful chemicals and humidity out
  • Operable windows to ventilate
  • Add IAQ sensors

Future Proof

Future-proofing for building projects means building resilience and adapting to changing climate without exceeding the required carbon emission levels. Future-proofing also relates to considering the social, health and economic future of cities and communities.

What can be done?

Many aspects of future-proofing overlap with savings and benefits in other areas, and sometimes there are trade-offs, so decisions have to be risk-based. But almost always, one solution isn't fit for every project.

These are some strategies to consider:

  • Use materials with low embodied carbon
  • Use materials/products with longer lifecycles
  • Add exterior sun shading/shutters
  • Operable windows to ventilate
  • Use Anti-flood products and systems
  • Design for disassembly
  • Energy-efficient heating and cooling systems
  • Power your home with Renewable energy
  • Harvest daylight
  • Use local products to foster resilient communities
  • Rainwater harvesting
  • Automate your building services and systems
  • Add charging point for electric vehicles

Protect Water

In the UK, with rainfall distributed throughout the year and a constant water supply, it can be difficult for people to grasp the issue of water shortage or water protection. But, with rising urbanisation, excessive waste and changes in rainfall patterns, pockets of water shortages will increase rapidly over the next 10 to 15 years.

What can be done?

Reducing the use of water in buildings helps in 2 ways; first, it reduces the amount of potable water that needs distribution; second, it reduces sewage volume and treatment. Energy spent in heating wasted water has massive CO2 emission implications

These are some strategies to consider.

  • Use low-flow fixtures
  • Use water-efficient equipment
  • Monitor consumption with water meters
  • Greywater recycling
  • Blackwater recycling
  • Rainwater harvesting
  • Smart irrigation

Reduce Waste

The construction and demolition industry is one of the most significant waste contributors in the UK, generating about 120 million tons of waste per year, which amounts to nearly one-third of the total waste produced in the country. Around half of this waste is reused or recycled; an alarming amount is disposed of, putting further burden on the increasingly scarce landfill sites.

What can be done?

Building and construction projects must aim to lower or eliminate waste production at all stages, including design, construction, in-use, and end of life.

These are some strategies to consider:

  • Use reclaimed materials
  • Use rapidly renewable materials
  • Use rapidly degradable materials
  • Use durable materials strategically
  • Use durable materials with high recycled content
  • Use products with EOL plan
  • Design to produce less waste (standardised sizes and modular design).
  • Optimise material use and procurement (avoid over-ordering).
  • Design for disassembly
  • Reduce raw materials used in packaging