Green building and sustainable architecture: how can Sunamp’s compact thermal storage play a role?

To achieve net zero emissions by 2050, the carbon emissions from buildings need to more than halve by 2030, based on the roadmap laid out by IEA.

Energy efficiency measures in buildings are crucial to achieving the carbon reduction targets & UN’s sustainable development goals. Beyond reducing carbon, these measures go a great distance in cutting bills and making buildings more resilient by balancing grid load, according to IEA.

However, beyond that, these measures have irrevocably shaped homebuyer and tenant preferences. And for architects and developers, whose decisions have far-reaching implications for both planet and consumers, green buildings present strong opportunities because:

i. Sustainable house designs increase value and help achieve market differentiation

Residents are increasingly making greener choices, identifying with brands and products that embrace purpose and sustainability. Consumers wish for the spaces they live in to be more eco-friendly, and this has rapidly changed the residential real-estate sector.

Legal & General’s research showed that the eco-conscious homebuyers are willing to pay up to 20% premium for low-carbon homes with high efficiency standards. Renters too are willing to pay 13% more for a low-carbon property that achieves a higher EPC rating.

Several studies have also shown a link between home retrofit improvements and increased property valuation. EPC ratings are important in decision making. Sellers who’ve upgraded their homes to a C from D, E or F are gaining about 16% extra on average when selling their homes. Green design certifications such as LEED, BREEAM and NGBS also have raised selling price of houses, a key differentiator appealing to eco-conscious buyers.

ii. Green building designs will help meet the regulatory targets

The housing and construction industry is on the brink of a major change.

The UK’s Future Homes Standard aims to reduce carbon emissions from new homes in England. By 2025, these homes should produce 75-80% fewer emissions than those built under previous regulations. Similarly, in Scotland, the Heat in Buildings Strategy & the New Build Heat Standard 2024 require all new buildings applying for a Building Warrant after April 2024 to have zero direct emissions heating. In addition, private and owner-occupied houses need to meet minimum efficiency standard by 2028 & 2033, respectively.

iii) Enhancing energy efficiency increases resident comfort & tenant satisfaction

According to IEA, enhancing the energy efficiency of a rented home space offers several advantages, including improved thermal comfort, noise reduction, better lighting, enhanced health and safety and above all, reduced energy expenses. These benefits contribute to higher tenant satisfaction and increased demand for the space.

So what are some sustainable design strategies for architects to enhance efficiency?

While Passivhaus, living roofs, recycled & biophilic materials, waste reduction, air tight fabrics & intelligent insulation are great to keep energy use low, the most significant step towards sustainability is using clean technology to cut fossil fuels.

Heat pumps have emerged as a key technology in transforming new buildings, as they offer significant energy savings for consumers due to extremely high efficiency. They also help achieve the overarching goal of net zero emissions. The latest consultation on the Future Homes Standard, which aims to produce at least 75% less CO2 to radically transform new build construction, proposed heat pump technology as the key decarbonising measure, alongside low carbon heat network and solar PV. The UK government also has invested heavily in the heat pump industry, incentivising both their sale and installation via the Clean Heat Market Mechanism.

To further aid in this transition, the government has extended the Boiler Upgrade Scheme to 2028 to phase out gas boilers. While this scheme is aimed at incentivising consumers, it also has implications for architects, such as:

1) Increased demand for low-carbon technology: As more property owners take advantage of the scheme to upgrade their heating systems, architects are seeing an increased demand for designs that incorporate low carbon technologies. This includes specifying heat pumps or hybrid systems in building plans.

2) Design considerations: Architects may need to consider the space requirements, aesthetics, and integration of heat pumps within existing or new buildings. Integrating these technologies effectively while maintaining architectural integrity is important.

3) Collaboration with installers: Architects may collaborate closely with installers during the planning and construction phases. Understanding the technical aspects of these low-carbon installations will be essential to ensure seamless integration into the building designs.

So architects need to stay updated with the latest in heat pump, solar & hybrid heating technologies to adapt their practices and keep up with the growing interest & government’s push, as well to reduce operational emissions.

However, integrating these space heating technologies requires additional thermal storage, as heat pumps and hybrid systems need ancillary equipment to deliver hot water for residents.

Given the design considerations, a bulky hot water tank takes up valuable floor or cupboard space and can interfere with creating flexible building layouts.

How can Sunamp’s thermal storage technology contribute to sustainability in building design for architects?

High energy efficiency: Regulatory frameworks are evolving rapidly. Building codes and standards now emphasise energy efficiency & operational emissions in new builds.

Thermino batteries are packed with high-performance vacuum insulation which achieves up to 19 times the insulation performance of polystyrene foam. This translates to ultra-low heat losses (up to 2-4x lower than a cylinder: 0.5-077 kWh vs 1.3-3.4kWh), meaning high efficiency and more energy savings for residents.

Achieving SAP compliance: Thermino ePlus & xPlus heat batteries can be manually entered and modelled in SAP 10.2 software, helping you meet required standards and sustainability goals.

Load flexibility: According to Ofgem, the expected electricity generation capacity from renewables and other zero-carbon sources will reach 300GW by 2035. The PCM heat batteries can help manage peak demand more effectively. For instance, the batteries can be connected in series or parallel to increase heat storage capacity and reduce grid demand, making them a smart choice for eco-conscious residential developments. The systems can be tailored to fit the specific needs of any project, regardless of scale or complexity.

What are the key benefits of using Sunamp’s compact thermal storage in residential buildings?

i) Space-saving design: Thermino heat batteries have a sleek, cuboid design. They can fit into tight spaces, where a hot water tank cannot, which means more design freedom for architects and designers, and more precious floor space available for residents. Compared to a bulky hot water cylinder, the compact heat batteries can fit under stairs or kitchen worktops – making them an excellent choice for architects looking to optimise building designs.

ii) Demand shifting by off-peak charging: Hot water makes up for 18% of total domestic energy consumption on average; Thermino batteries can make use of the cheaper off-peak electricity from the grid to top up the charge automatically when required.

iii) Legionella protection & no maintenance: Thanks to its innovative design, Thermino batteries contain less than 15L of stored water, and are protected against the risk of Legionella, ensuring safe and reliable hot water supply for residents. No mandatory annual maintenance is required on the appliance either.

Are Sunamp’s thermal storage solutions compatible with other low-carbon technologies like heat pumps and solar panels?

Yes, Sunamp’s thermal storage solutions are designed to work seamlessly with low-carbon technologies such as heat pumps and solar panels. Architects designing buildings with solar panels, ground- and air source heat pumps or low carbon heat networks can integrate Thermino batteries into their designs.

When paired with heat pumps & solar PV, these batteries can also help bring onsite household emissions down to zero.

How can Sunamp’s thermal storage be integrated into existing building designs?

Sunamp’s space-saving heat batteries are easy-fit and quick to install and can be retrofitted into existing buildings with minimal disruption, without decanting residents. Read Gentoo’s gas replacement case study here

What considerations should architects keep in mind when designing with Sunamp’s thermal storage products?

Architects should consider the space requirements, integration with other energy systems, compliance, and aesthetic aspects when incorporating Sunamp’s thermal storage products. Collaboration with our certified installers and understanding the technical specifications of these systems will ensure optimal integration and performance in the building design.

Let’s work together to understand how we can help you create sustainable, low-emissions housing projects. Contact us here.