Energy Efficiency

Future Proofing Buildings

Published on October 13, 2020

Dowell ThermaLineTM

In the past 100 years the low cost of energy has allowed architects to design buildings that can ignore natural ventilation, daylight and the suns energy, by replacing it with an artificial environment that is air-conditioned, humidified and artificially lit. This approach emerged through the harnessing of energy from fossil fuels, but with the move away from energy dependence this has translated into a fresh approach to housing design.

In Europe housing design has embraced the concept of Zero Energy Building (ZEB) as the response to changing environmental pressures. In general the term “future-proofing” refers to the ability of something to continue to be of value into the distant future; that the item does not become obsolete.

Principles of future-proofing buildings

Some of the principles of future-proofing buildings include; Nil deterioration of existing materials by other structures or materials and products used in building construction, the encouragement of design flexibility, the building design adaptability in relation to the environment, consideration to the occupant needs, and future technologies.

Building design and features should enable a long service life and increase durability. Provide products with the capacity to meet future requirements and thereby reduce the likelihood of obsolescence. Taking into consideration the long term life-cycle benefits by calculating the future benefits against initial costs.

The term “future-proofing” in relation to sustainable design began to be used in 2007. It has been used more often in sustainable design in relation to energy conservation to minimise the effects of future global temperature rise and/or rising energy costs. In the context of building, the term usually refers to the ability of a structure to withstand impacts from future shortages in energy and resources, increasing world population, and environmental issues, by reducing the amount of energy consumption in the building.

Reference source; Byrd, Hugh (2012) Energy climate buildings: an introduction to designing future-proof buildings in New Zealand and the tropical pacific. Transforming Cities, Auckland, New Zealand.

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