Integrating renewable energy into refurb-a case study

By Andy Patel.

We have a problem; the burning of fossil fuels for energy is creating huge amounts of CO2, which contributes to global warming and climate change. The good news is that, by reducing the amount of energy we consume in the first place and by finding alternative, clean and above all local sources of energy supply, we can do something about it.

The first thing to tackle is the thermal efficiency of buildings since a significant amount of energy used for heating is wasted straight through walls and roofs. It is estimated that over 40% of the non-domestic buildings standing in 2050 will have been built before the introduction of even basic energy standards in the 1970s, so the refurbishment of existing building stock has a crucial role to play.

Katharine Deas disusses a similar argument in her blog on Business Green: We must not lose focus on the challenge of operational carbon.

PIR core insulated panel systems offer an extremely effective refurbishment solution, with low U-values and low air leakage providing consistent, durable thermal performance.  They are also lightweight, which is an important consideration when dealing with existing structures.

Some insulated panel systems also offer the opportunity to go beyond simple building envelope performance by providing fully integrated sources of renewable energy. The panels themselves can be collectors of solar heat, or they can be supplied with full photovoltaic capability.
Brook House Case Study:

Brook House is a brick building which was originally part of a poultry farm, and had been standing disused for thirty one years before being taken over by the owners of Sustainable Energy Systems Ltd (SES) and upgraded to provide a new training and storage facility.  The choice to refurbish rather than demolish and rebuild meant that a very cost-effective work space could be created with a comparatively low carbon impact.  It also provided the ideal opportunity to take advantage of the benefits offered by a combination of high performance insulated panels with the latest photovoltaic technology.

A new roof was fitted with a flexible, lightweight solar laminate adhered directly onto a Lo-Pitch insulated roof panel.  This Kingspan system will help to keep heating costs down, and the electricity generated by the PowerPanel laminate will make the facility inexpensive to run.  Furthermore, SES will be able to tap into the new Feed In Tariff, significantly shortening the payback period on their investment. It is expected that the development will enable expansion of the business, bringing employment and training to the local community, as well as providing a great example of renewable energy and thermally efficient building in action.

Jon Kemp, Managing Director of SES commented “This PowerPanel Roof Laminate system is a fast and effective way to integrate renewable energy generation into commercial buildings.  The system includes the superior properties of the Kingspan insulated panel whilst integrating an unobtrusive photovoltaic panel capable of producing approximately 80% of the building’s energy requirements.  It was a logical choice for us to use it on our own building

It is important that the construction industry continues to innovate and trial new ideas to make carbon reduction a practical reality for businesses and their buildings. By making solutions that are flexible to building type and age, that are easy to install, effective and provide good value, we can all do something to contribute and help to reduce our own costs.  We then stand a better chance of making a dent in our national carbon footprint. 
By Andy Patel, Divisional Technical Manager, Kingspan.
Contact Andy for more details on

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