Addressing Building Emissions

Teresa Madaleno

Buildings can consume a large amount of energy. Globally they account for 41 percent of energy consumption. Lighting, heating, cooling and plug load all factor into energy consumption, which of course leads to greenhouse gas emissions. However, every day we are learning about more ways to reduce the GHG generated by buildings.

Did you know that generally, buildings can save a minimum of 20 percent of energy consumption by implementing energy efficiency measures, including lighting and equipment scheduling, as well as building automation?

In a world where we have largely depended on fossil fuels, it is difficult for many people to imagine heating buildings will no fossil fuel. At Sparta Group we’re confident in saying that alternative heat sources and even the use of some older building tools make it possible to warm buildings without emitting carbon dioxide.

Here’s an example. The design engineering magazine, Design World recently published an article about a Belgian company that is working on a system that will use waste heat circulating in sewer tunnels to heat homes in the city above.

Sewer tunnel heating system

A thin plastic pipe filled with water that switches on and off itself is connected to a heat pump above ground. It is fixed to the bottom of the sewer tunnel. When the tunnel is full of waste- water, it runs over the thin plastic pipe, referred to as a “converter”, heating the water inside to about 13C. The warm water runs through the converter and up out of the sewer. Above ground the converter is attached to a heat pump, which contains a refrigerant liquid with a low boiling point. The warmth from the sewer evaporates the refrigerant into a gas. From this point the pump compresses the gas thus releasing heat to warm water (50-70C), which is hot enough to heat homes. While this system still has an environmental impact, the designers say that it produces at least five times the energy it consumes.

The concept shows so much promise that other countries, including Austria and the Netherlands are looking at it.

Solar gain installation

This is just one example, there are others, such as solar gain installations. This is a system of building construction that seems to work particularly well on apartments, condos and large office buildings. It involves installing unusually angled balconies on the sides of buildings. With the suns help, the balconies can bump internal temperatures up by a few degrees.

One size would not fit all in the case of solar-gain installation. Afterall, the height of the sun varies depending on where you are in the world. To make it easier, there is software to make solar gains calculations for you.

Since every situation is different Sparta takes a customized approach when helping its industrial and commercial customers improve energy efficiency and reduce their power bills.

These latest energy efficient concepts outlined here, remind us that what was once deemed impossible is now probable.