Sustainable architecture and energy saving
For a few decades now, one of the undeniable objectives for quality architecture, increasingly, is to construct buildings that are not only functional and aesthetically pleasing, but also have a low impact on our surrounding environment.
This trend, generically called sustainable architecture, is expressed in various aspects of designers’ and builders’ work. For example, studying the environment where the new building will be located from a naturalistic and historical-cultural point of view becomes central to designing a structure that is integrated with the landscape and does not cause it any damage. In addition, the choice of materials and construction techniques can be made to respect the environment, minimising negative impacts on nature arising from the production and supply of materials and attempting to complete the work with the lowest possible expenditure of energy.
Finally, the systems that allow the operation of the building must be designed to use energy from alternative sources, such as solar photovoltaic or biogas, preferably produced directly on site, and to reduce energy consumption as much as possible in order to preserve the environment and improve the overall efficiency of the building’s management.
All these aspects, and many others, are measured by the LEED certification system (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), which AKNO is continuously committed to following. LEED is a useful protocol to measure building eco-sustainability, created in the USA between 1994 and 1998 and the certification it provides is an indispensable tool to evaluate a project’s sustainability in construction on a global scale.
This certification system is based on the studies carried out in the field of sustainability in construction in recent decades and promotes, also through healthy competition between the most important companies in the sector, the development of design standards of excellence, aimed at achieving full environmental sustainability.
AKNO has been working for years to develop projects with a low environmental impact, particularly through the work of its Energy division. AKNO has followed the green building mandates, as recommended in the national LEED protocol drawn up by the Green Building Council Italy.
Energy saving: heat
One of the most expensive forms of energy, both from an environmental and an economic point of view, that is used in a building is the one spent on air conditioning to control room temperature. In fact, heating or cooling an environment, especially in regions of the planet such as continental Europe where there is a wide range between winter and summer temperatures, is a task that requires very careful design of effective and efficient air conditioning systems.
However, it is not only the efficiency of these systems that determine good management of the interior air conditioning, but also the thermal insulation of the structure is of considerable importance. The concept is, in fact, quite simple: for the room temperature to be different from that outside, it is necessary to use energy; but because the temperature difference that is created is maintained for a long time, the walls of the room must provide maximum resistance to heat transfer — from the inside to the outside if we are heating the room, or in the opposite direction, if we are cooling it.
The more the walls oppose the transfer of energy, i.e. they have good thermal insulation, (in technical terms), the less energy is spent restoring the temperature difference between inside and outside.
For this reason, AKNO Energy uses not only highly insulating materials for the walls, but also thermally insulated fittings for glazed parts in order to ensure maximum energy savings in air conditioning systems, with benefits for both the environment and for operating costs.
Energy saving: light
The efficiency of a lighting system is based on a fundamental principle: illuminate only what is needed and only when it is needed. Not all lamps, in fact, produce the same illumination consuming the same energy and, once you have accurately calculated how much you need to illuminate a certain room, you can choose lamps built using different technologies to obtain the same illumination with different levels of energy consumption.
For this reason, we at AKNO only use energy-saving lamps for our lighting systems, achieving the desired lighting effect using as little energy as possible.
In addition, our facilities are designed to make the most of the external natural light using transparent roofing that lets in as much sunlight as possible and so reduces the need to use lamps for artificial lighting.
Furthermore, in order to illuminate a room only when really needed, we equip our systems with both light level sensors, allowing the lights to be switched on only when absolutely necessary, and movement sensors which automatically switch off the artificial lighting when no-one is in the room.
In this way, an initial investment in sensors and low consumption lamps combined with an architectural design capable of taking full advantage of the external natural light, allows our facilities manager to save money in the long term, in addition to the environmental benefits obtained from the absolute energy savings.
For some years now, the theme of water as a fundamental resource for the future of the planet has been frequently discussed. Indeed, many scientists believe that water reserves will increasingly be a key element in all our lives and not only those who are already living in areas of the planet where this resource is particularly scarce.
For this reason, water saving has also become a central topic in sustainable architecture and AKNO has been working in this direction for some years now. One of the most tangible initiatives that characterises our way of designing buildings is to equip the plumbing with a rainwater recovery system. In reality, it is simply a matter of adding one or more rainwater collection tanks and a filter system that allows this water to be used safely for a wide variety of purposes.
In this way, with a modest additional investment at the time of construction, you can save up to 50% on your water bill, and also contribute, in a real sense, to environmental protection.