Category Archives: Energy Saving

Mark this renewable day in your diary and celebrate

by Russell Jones ~ Communications Manager at Mitsubishi Electric

Russell Jones asks whether a whole day of electricity produced without burning a single lump of coal spells out the end of an era for the nation.

Last Friday, 21st April 2017 was a very special day for the UK as the country generated a whole day of electricity without needing to use coal-fired power stations.

This landmark moment is the first working day in since 1882, when the first public coal-fired generating plant opened in London when no coal has been needed to help supply power to the nation – as reported by many news outlets such as the BBC and the Financial Times.

Whilst low demand for electricity in the week after the Easter holiday is quite normal and Friday’s are the day of the working week with the lowest power demand, this move away from what has been a bedrock of the UK’s energy production since the start of the industrial revolution is a real achievement.

This shows how the nation’s energy system is changing to embrace low-carbon electricity production through the use of nuclear, solar panels, wind turbines and a switch from coal to biomass and gas-powered stations.

In 2016, the government reported that it was working to phase out the last coal plants by 2025 in an effort to cut overall carbon emissions.

As we move towards low carbon power generation, renewable technologies such as air source heat pumps become even more viable and attractive.

So it looks like we are really starting to see a greening of the electricity grid which is tremendous news for renewable technologies such as heat pumps, which consume electricity but use it to maximise renewable heating for our homes.

Earlier this year, we produced an infographic looking at the history of home heating so I’m delighted to see that we are starting to enter the last phase of that and set the scene for a low-carbon power generating grid, feeding low-carbon heating systems – all of which will help minimise energy bills for homeowners and aid the country as we strive to meet stringent carbon reduction targets.

We look forward to discussing this more on The Hub over the next few years as we strive to move towards a truly zero-carbon society.

At Mitsubishi Electric, we also love to discuss this topic over on our Green Gateway Twitter page, so please join the conversation.

Russell Jones is PR & Communications Manager for Mitsubishi Electric Living Environment Systems in the UK.

If you have any questions about this article or want to know more, please email us. We will contact the author and will get back to you as soon as we can.

https://thehub.mitsubishielectric.co.uk

The history of home heating and the rise of renewables

Article by Ellina Webb ~ Marketing Specialist at Mitsubishi Electric

We’re all users of a home, whether we own it, rent it, or just occupy it and ensuring we have a comfortable and warm home environment is now seen as an expectation of modern life.

But it hasn’t always been possible to take a warm home for granted and things haven’t always been as easy as they are today.

Since the days when early man first discovered fire and used it to keep the ‘cave’ warm and the wolves from the door, we have found ways to refine how we use that flame.

From the wood-burning days through to the industrialisation of the Victorian age and the introduction of coal, lighting a fire has been the main source of heat for the home.

renewable energy

Until the turn of the 20th Century therefore, this open flame in a home wasn’t just for aesthetics – or to make you feel Hygge it was the only option available and for those petticoat wearing Victorian women, the hazard of accidental death from fire was a very real threat.

In the 1930’s, we started to see the introduction of electric forms of heating, and the introduction of a gas network from the 1950’s and 60’s, saw this fuel start to dominate the world of domestic heating.

Mitsubishi Electric - The Hub

Mitsubishi Electric - The Hub

However, it wasn’t until the 1970’s and 80’s that we started to see an increase in central heating, predominantly using gas boilers and this still remains the standard for most.

But a reliance on fossil fuels; gas, coal and oil will soon need to become history because as we all know, we cannot continue like this.

So what does the future of our home heating and hot water look like?

As a heat pump manufacturer, you would expect us to promote air source systems but we are not the only ones saying it – The UK government has already recognised that heat pumps have a major role to play in keeping our homes warm and cosy well into the future.

By extracting and harvesting ‘free’ heat energy from the outdoor air, heat pumps are recognised as renewable and qualify for government incentives in the form of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).

This is designed to offset the slightly higher capital costs of investing in renewables and is starting to have a significant impact on the traditional heating market as more people accept that they have to play their part.

Mitsubishi Electric - The Hub
Heat pumps are suitable from a variety of homes including pre-1930s, 1930-2010, 2010 – present and new build / self build properties.

At the moment, this is also taking the form of adding a heat pump to an existing heating system but as pressure on new housebuilders grows to clearly demonstrate they are delivering sustainable homes for the future, the government fully expects heat pumps to become the norm for home heating.

The other important factor to consider is that as the nation ‘greens’ production of energy with the increased use of wind, solar and even tidal energy production, then heat pumps become even greener.

Mitsubishi Electric - The Hub

So, the history of home heating has been an interesting journey so far but has relied predominantly on burning something to produce heat – a large part of which is often wasted up a chimney or flue.

In reality though, it’s quite scary to see how slow things have changed. It’s only now that the clock to a low carbon future really is ticking so we have to pull together to ensure we pick up the pace and move with the times.

https://thehub.mitsubishielectric.co.uk

The environmental lessons to be learnt from Dr Seuss

Article by Ellina Webb ~ Marketing Specialist at Mitsubishi Electric

To celebrate International Children’s Book Day it only seems appropriate to talk about a book with an overarching environmental theme.

The book in question is The Lorax by Dr Seuss which tells the story of the effects of pollution, deforestation and climate change after the forest of “Truffula trees” is chopped down.

Dr Seuss was a writer who was frequently inspired by political topics like the environmental movement, which allowed him to channel his negativity into magical and meaningful children’s literature – such as The Cat in the Hat, Horton Hears a Who and Oh! The Places You Will Go.

To some his underlying use of political themes might be viewed as controversial, especially in children’s storybooks, but as an adult reflecting on this story – which was a must-read of my primary school curriculum, the environmental messages are certain…and scary. Nevertheless, I’m glad that these books have subtly informed me and taught me that even though the world is full of issues, if you care, you can help to make them better.

To start, I’m going to give you a quick summary of the story:

A boy living in a polluted area of town seeks to discover what happened to the Lorax. To discover this he visits a man called Once-ler in the place where the “Grickle –grass grows”. While visiting Once-ler he hears the sad story of how Once-ler chopped down all the Truffula trees to fund his manufacturing business, destroying the home of the animals and polluting the air and water. This in turn drove the Lorax away and the Once-ler now lives alone and with deep regret of his selfish actions.

Re–reading the short story of the Lorax which was published in 1971, it’s clear what the important themes are that Dr Seuss has focused on and it’s sad that over 40 years later (and well over 20 years after the death of Theodor Seuss Geisel) these themes are still major issues that we face today.

So what are the themes and how are they still relevant today?

Deforestation

The major catalyst to the Lorax leaving was the cutting down of all the trees. The Lorax speaks for the trees “for the trees have no tongues” and unfortunately all his speaking did could not save them – especially as the innovation in Once-ler’s axe technology quadrupled his turnover of tree harvesting!

In real life and in today’s terms, deforestation is devastating to our planet and at the current rate of deforestation the world’s rainforests could completely vanish in a hundred years. The most common reasons behind deforestation are agriculture, logging and urban sprawl. The biggest impact deforestation has is on the 80% of the earth’s animals and plants that live there. While for climate change, no trees means dryer soils and less absorption of greenhouse gasses.

Mitsubishi Electric - The Hub
Deforestation is a primary threat to animals like the Orangutan

Poor respect for the environment

If you work for a large corporation, the term Corporate Social Responsibility might be something you have heard quite a lot about.  Respecting the environment from a business level has thankfully become quite important in the past few years, but for the average individual, is respecting the environment still a challenge that we need educating on? In 2015 The Telegraph reported on a government survey that showed how only 18% of Britons are “very concerned” about climate change. So does that show that they have no driver behind pro-activity respecting the environment – like Once-ler?

It’s a question we ask ourselves over on our Green Gateway Twitter page (@green_gateway) so feel free to discuss your thoughts with us on there.

The importance of plants

As previously mentioned, less trees means drier soils and less absorption of greenhouse gasses. But on an everyday scale, trees and plants are so much more than that. Plants, like in the story of the Lorax, provide shelter, food, oxygen and water purification. Without the Truffula trees the pollution from Once-ler’s factory destroys the quality of the air and the water, changing the landscape and driving the animals away. Beyond this, plants also provide medicine and store carbon dioxide, helping us reduce the impact of other environmental threats like the burning of fossil fuels.

The impact of pollution

Aside from the physical impact of pollution, the Lorax touches on the impact of pollution from over manufacturing “your machine chugs on, day and night without stop, making gluppity-glupp. Also schloppity-schlopp”. According to Conserve Energy Future, any form of pollution can be traced back to industrial practices. This can be seen in countries that face a rapid growth of industry. The contamination and effects of this are so vast that they would require an article in themselves to do them justice. But if Dr Seuss’ exploration of this theme is something you want to delve into further, the more in-depth Lorax film from 2012 is definitely worth watching.

Mitsubishi Electric - The Hub
Industrial pollution
Industrial waste is a large contributor to global pollution

So relating this back to International Children’s Book Day, I hope you appreciate why The Lorax is not just an enchantingly poetic story. It is also worthy of being in the realm of children’s classics, like his other work: Oh! The Places You Will Go, this has deep and touching meaning that will leave children and adults alike questioning their impact in the world we live in today.

Ellina Webb is a Marketing Specialist at Mitsubishi Electric

If you have any questions about this article or want to know more, please email us. We will contact the author and will get back to you as soon as we can.

London’s Riverwalk incorporates Passivhaus standard Schöck Isokorb

On the north side of the Thames in central London, the three riverside embankments, Chelsea, Victoria and Albert, are the result of extensive civil engineering works that reclaimed marshy land, narrowed the width of the river and provided a large-scale new area of development during the late 19th century.    Today almost 150 years later, much of the area is once again being transformed as the result of a scheme designed to replace many of the outdated buildings which have characterised these areas for so long. There will be high specification property construction, promenades and parks; and at Millbank, one of the major residential riverfront developments is Riverwalk.

Passivhaus standard Schöck Isokorb

Riverwalk features two organically shaped buildings of seven and seventeen storeys, connected by a central podium and incorporating 116 high specification one, two, three and four bedroom apartments, plus penthouses. The design focus is on light, space, service and exceptional views across the Thames.   Aesthetically the buildings are enhanced by horizontal bands of limestone on the curving facades between the glazing and ceramic panels, with the stonework wrapping around the lower parts of the balconies to create a continuous organic shape.

The avoidance of thermal bridging is critical

With such a high specification development, early consideration was given to the avoidance of the thermal bridging at the critical balcony connections. Thermal bridges would result in higher heat transfer through the assembly and colder surface temperatures on the warm side of the assembly.

Some of the consequences of this being higher energy use for heating and cooling, non-compliance with UK Building Regulations, potential building structure corrosion and the risk of mould growth and associated health concerns from respiratory problems. To help minimise any risk of thermal bridging, the structural thermal break module specified throughout the Riverwalk development is the latest generation Schöck Isokorb for concrete-to-concrete applications, the type KXT.

Isokorb type KXT

This latest example of Schöck engineering means even better performance, which is critical in meeting the inceasingly stringent EU guidelines and the imminent need for nearly zero-energy building standards. The Schöck Isokorb type KXT pushes the technical boundaries in meeting these demands.

In addition, through close collaboration with its clients, Schöck has also now optimised the load capacity of the Isokorb range. As a result, the load capacities most frequently in demand have been identified and appropriate refinements applied to the product portfolio.   The range now provides planners with not only a structurally optimised product solution for the construction of cantilevered components, but cost advantages as well.

Schöck Isokorb

Verifiable performance values

The product offers such a high level of insulation, that in Germany the Passivhaus Institute in Darmstadt has awarded the product with the low ‘thermal bridge construction‘ certificate and confirmed its suitability even for Passivhaus construction. The product has also just been awarded the very latest BBA certification.   All units meet full compliance with the relevant UK building regulations, which require that the temperature factor used to indicate condensation risk (fRSI) must be greater than or equal to 0.75 for residential buildings. The range also provides Local Authority Building Control Registration and there is compliance too with the UK government Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP 2012) concerning CO2 emissions from buildings and respectively heat losses through non-repeating thermal bridges.

Here, the lambda values of the Schöck Isokorb enable energy loss in various connective situations to be reduced by as much as 84% to 91%.

For a free copy of the Schöck Thermal Bridging Guide and / or the Thermal Bridging Solutions brochure – contact the company on 01865 290 890 or visit www.schoeck.co.uk

Washroom design for the well educated

With so many rules and regulations surrounding the practicalities of washroom design in educational settings, Daniel Ward, Senior Ceramics Product Manager for Twyford, talks us through the dos and don’ts of sanitary specification for the school environment.

Specifying products for washrooms within the education sector may seem like a fairly straightforward task, but there are a number of considerations that need to be taken into account to ensure not only that regulations are met, but that the space is well designed, comfortable and practical.

Lack of privacy, vandalism and inadequate cleaning and maintenance can make a visit to the toilet an unpleasant and unhealthy experience for students. In fact, recent research undertaken by charity Education and Resources for Improving Childhood Continence (ERIC) highlighted that the quality of school toilets has a huge impact on pupils’ health, education and happiness. Therefore the design of washrooms in education premises needs to be about a lot more than simply providing enough toilets and washbasins.

Laying out the order

The overall layout of school washrooms is a good place to start. As well as adhering to regulations regarding wheelchair accessible cubicles, all standard cubicles must have a minimum 450mm-diameter manoeuvring space that is clear of the door swing. And of course, when you are designing spaces for growing children, the sizes and fixing heights of sanitaryware must be suitable for the relevant user age groups too. Short projection WCs offer a good solution here, creating the necessary space while still ensuring user comfort. Wall-mounting the pan with a suitable framing system will enable the height of the WC to be easily adjusted during installation, to better meet the needs of the user.

Hygiene first

Aside from layout, hygiene in this environment is extremely important too, with ease of cleaning being key to students’ health and wellbeing. So much so that the Department for Education offers guidance on the issue, stating that to avoid build-up of dirt and germs, the toilets in schools should be wall-hung or back to wall.. This also offers a solution with regards to ensuring plumbing work is tamper-proof, a particular point of note when specifying for colleges and universities which serve older children and young adults. The cistern and pipework concealed within the framing system, preventing interference, while being easy to access for maintenance purposes. A dual-flush cistern sitting neatly behind the wall will also help to significantly reduce the amount of water used, while not affecting overall flushing performance. This is particularly important in educational establishments, which are high-traffic areas with the potential for toilets to be flushed literally hundreds of times in any one day.

It is also worth noting that in schools, particularly where younger users are present, the recommendation is also to avoid urinals, but where they are specified to opt for individual bowls rather than a trough, with modestly panels for privacy.

sanitaryware
Twyford offers a Rimfree school pans and Flushwise water-efficient WC flushing options.

Water-saving pays off

The washbasins in school washrooms should also be subject to a number of practical considerations. Of course, ease of cleaning for hygiene reasons remains imperative, making ceramics that are coated with an easy to clean glaze a particular benefit, while the choice of brassware is also important. Not only should mixer taps for washbasins be robust and tamper-proof, ideally they should be fitted with an automatic shut-off too, either through a built-in timed delivery feature or infra-red sensors.

Energy and water are a major proportion of non-staff costs in schools, colleges and universities and a major part of their environmental impact. While some schools will have greater scope for savings than others, overall more than 20% of energy is wasted, and a school that is equipped with water conservation devices, such as taps with automatic shut-offs or flow restrictors, plus dual-flush WCS, typically use less than half the amount of water used in schools where such features are not present.

Longevity guarantee

Keeping maintenance levels as low as possible is an important requirement in school buildings, where downtime in washrooms can be at best inconvenient for staff and students. This makes the specification of quality sanitary fittings that will be hard-wearing and durable, of particular significance. To limit the frequency of replacing such fixtures and fittings, their life expectancy should be around 15-20 years, with a manufacturer’s guarantee providing the best scope for this.

There are undoubtedly a lot of things to consider when designing washrooms for educational establishments, with all elements really carrying an equal weight of importance. The trick to ticking all of them off and achieving a successful design is to establish a strong relationship with a manufacturer who is able to respond to all aspects of a washroom’s design, from layouts and dimensions to styles and materials as standard, so that there is never any need to compromise.

For more details contact Twyford on 01926 516800 or visit www.twyfordbathrooms.com.

All hands on deck for refurbishment of The Ship

When the owners of one of Plymouth’s most iconic building were looking to refurbish and upgrade the derelict office within weeks instead of months, they needed a team of installers able to hit the ground running, and a flexible heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system that would still deliver the energy savings needed.

HVAC

“When we first decided to buy The Ship we knew that the existing HVAC system was just inadequate and the whole system would need upgrading,” explained Rob Monroe, managing director of owners Burrington Estates.   “New tenants were keen to move in so we also had limited time in which to make the drastic changes that were required.”

What was needed was a company that would be able to design, install, commission and maintain a far more energy efficient and sustainable system and be able to do this in a very short space of time.

“We would normally expect the timescale for completion of a job like this to be three or four months and we were given 10 weeks,” said Kurt Hedgley, managing director, JCW Energy Services Ltd.  “Not only this, the client needed us on site just seven days from the date of receiving the purchase order.”

The company was able to build a team from a number of its nationwide offices and called upon the technical and logistical support of manufacturer Mitsubishi Electric.

“JCW Energy Services was a perfect fit,” said Monroe, “To finish a project of this size in the tight timescale given, I applaud their speed, organization, engineering team and work ethic.”

Built in 1993, The Ship used to be home to The Herald and Western Morning News but in recent years it has been left empty and was even being considered for demolition until a leading city property development company, Burrington Estates, acquired the building
Now The Ship is being restored to its former glory, and has been renamed Spirit of Enterprise with hundreds of jobs being created by the businesses that will take up residence.

Mitsubishi Electric

“It was clear that reducing the building’s energy consumption was of paramount importance to Burrington Estates, who are renowned for their sympathetic development of historic sites in the region,” commented Kurt Hedgley.

“We worked within our partnership agreement with Mitsubishi Electric who provided us with innovative support to ensure the most suitable system that could be designed, installed and commissioned within the tight deadline specified.”

For the first phase of this impressive project, 12 City Multi Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) outdoor condensing units and four Mr Slim split air conditioning systems were installed to serve 89 individual ceiling units.

City Multi was chosen as it could be installed in a modular fashion providing JCW engineers with the flexibility needed to work around the other elements of the refurbishment.

“We chose this VRF system because of its high performance and that fact that it only uses two pipes rather than the usual three which was ideal in a job with such tight deadlines,” added Hedgley. “It also comes with intelligent controls that make it easier to interface with the Building Management System.”

As a Business Solutions Partner with the manufacturer, JCW is also able to offer a seven-year warranty on the equipment.
With the whole building under refurbishment, it was also imperative that JCW engineers could work alongside a large number of tradespeople and engineers from shop fitters, life system installers to window cleaners and even mural artists.

Working around existing equipment was also a challenge with regard to integrating systems and negotiating new pipework around old. The shape of the building and also the positioning of the plant has added to the challenge with some units being fed through over 150 metres pipe runs, putting added pressure on the system.

“One of our engineers told me that this was one of the most challenging but also the most rewarding projects he’s ever worked on,” added Hedgley.

The final solution needs to provide a regular temperature, even with the architectural challenges of the building. It also demanded a system that can be easily controlled, provide the best energy efficiency and be sustainable.

“The energy rating will drastically improve immediately and our design provides effective, simultaneous heating and cooling which can offer substantial savings on the annual running costs,” explained Hedgley.

A complete planned preventative maintenance programme has also been prepared to run alongside the seven-year warranty.

The Ship’s next phase will include the completion of the restaurant and gymnasium for the use of the staff within the offices. And finally, the amazing Board Room with its spectacular views.

This will see the completion of the plan to breathe new life back into the building and see it restored to its former glory and become a major hub for business in the area.

Further details on the services provided by JCW can be found at http://www.jcwes.com/.

https://airconditioning.mitsubishielectric.co.uk

Make sure you choose low maintenance timber windows and doors

Any homeowners considering buying timber windows and doors will know that there is always a high level of maintenance and upkeep required. External facings on timber windows and doors need regular coatings to ensure they do not rot, as well as making sure they look good for aesthetic reasons.

Accoya Wood

Traditional exterior windows and doors, in oak or other hardwoods, need to be checked several times a year, to ensure there are no cracks in paintwork or varnish. Wear and tear in exterior coatings means that damp and moisture can creep in, which can see the onset of rot if not seen to straight away. The movement in oak timber, particularly, can cause cracks within the wood and coatings.

The majority of homeowners don’t actually realise that they have the option to choose the appearance of timber windows but without the high maintenance aspect. This choice – Accoya wood – is hugely growing in popularity and is already well-known within the joinery industry.

Accoya Wood

Accoya is a modified sustainable wood product which is highly durable and therefore, very low maintenance compared to traditional timber windows and doors. The non-toxic Accoya process prevents any water bonding with the wood, greatly reducing the chance of rot and creating a highly stable product.

In fact, the Accoya wood is so durable it comes with a 50 year guarantee against rot above the ground. Its improved durability and coatings performance means Accoya offers significantly lower maintenance and upkeep costs over the lifetime of the product.

An additional benefit of using Accoya is it is a 40% better insulator than hardwoods, so using Accoya external doors and windows can offer significant savings in energy costs for homeowners.

Accoya is a non-toxic product and has won many sustainability awards for its environmental credentials.

You can find your nearest Accoya supplier by clicking here.

Inspired by design? Visit Accoya’s new blog to view a selection of project stories.

 

 

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