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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Facilities, Volume 32, Issue 7/8
The papers in this issue, originated from different continents across the world, are centred on energy and sustainability of built facilities.
The work of Kantola and Saari is focused on nearly zero-energy building (nZEB), which is a green issue attracting increasing attention in recent years. By means of a workshop involving some nZEB and air-conditioning experts in Finland, the expert opinions collected reveal three main issues of the procurement methods for ensuring functionality of nZEBs, namely, selection of project delivery system, use of performance controller for heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems and enabling innovations. The findings of the study are meant to help achieve nZEBs. Further work is needed to investigate how the idea of performance controller may be properly implemented.
Another topical green issue is carbon emission. Further to some earlier carbon-related publications in the journal, the second article in this issue, authored by Li, Chiang, Zhou and Choi, presents a study on residential carbon emission. The study identified the amount of carbon emitted from the electrical appliances used for space cooling, water heating, cooking, lighting, refrigeration and wet cleaning for a family in Hong Kong. On this basis, estimations were made for the emission of carbon from major home electrical appliances in the residential building sector and the reduction of carbon achievable by adoption of the government guidelines on energy saving.
A team comprising Lam, Chan, Yu, Cam and Yu, also from Hong Kong, investigated the influence of the unique features of built facilities on the application of carbon emissions trading and explored what adaptive measures may be taken to facilitate the application. Taking a review study approach, the authors compared the emissions trading schemes in the building sectors of Australia, Japan and the UK. Small energy savings of individual building units and the diverse interests of building owners and tenants were found to be among the barriers to application of the trading schemes. The suggestions made for overcoming the barriers may serve as reference for policymakers and facilities managers.
Zuo, Xia, Barker and Skitmore conducted a case study on a green residential retirement project in South Australia. Through a series of interviews with the senior management staff of the project and collection of the project’s information, the study found that high initial cost is a major obstacle to the provision of green retirement villages. Nevertheless, some positive aspects such as adoption of thermally efficient building materials; installation of water harvesting and recycling systems, water conservation fittings and appliances; and effective management of construction waste were identified. To better inform the decision makers of this kind of projects, it would be helpful if the consumers’ willingness to pay for the green features could be quantified in future research.
Focusing on the existing building stock, Wilkinson carried out a research to find out the adaptation pattern of low-grade office buildings in Melbourne, Australia. Twelve buildings were selected at random for the research and three of them were examined in detail for analysing their adaptations over the years. A major finding is that in looking for carbon reduction, a measure in the short-term is to capitalize on the existing behaviour patterns, instead of seeking to instigate major behavioural changes. The piecemeal approach to adaptations in that building sector, as remarked, is compounded by the patterns of ownership and short-term multiple tenancies.
In the USA, an empirical study was done by Hebert, Kang and Thompsen to examine the lighting systems in a building accommodating 77 national laboratories. The illumination levels of the laboratories were measured and the results were compared against industry standards and recommendations. While the main study findings, including de-lamping luminaires from four lamps to two lamps and installation of occupancy sensors, are some common energy-saving measures, making such improvements happen is crucial to realization of carbon reduction.
To investigate the satisfaction of occupants of green and conventional dwellings, Zalejska-Jonsson conducted a study in Sweden, in which a survey was used to collect responses of the occupants in pairs of green and conventional buildings. The statistical analyses carried out under the study identified the existence of no significant difference between the overall satisfaction of occupants living in the green and conventional buildings. Whereas occupant feedback, user-friendly technical installations and ability to control indoor environment were highlighted as important, measurements of the physical parameters of indoor environmental quality would further provide useful information to building designers and facilities managers.
The last but not the least paper reports on a multi-disciplinary research by Greene, Crumbleholme and Myerson. Using the ethnographic and user-centred design methodologies, in-depth interviews and workplace observations were made to understand the views of employees on sustainability in their organizations, followed by conducting workshops to explore their attitudes towards sustainability. How to motivate employees to act more sustainably was also explored using design provocations. Drawn from the study results, a model of sustainability cultures was developed into a toolkit that may be used by facilities managers in motivating behavioural changes towards a more environmentally sustainable workplace.