This paper presents a proposal to study the level of energy efficiency in existing commercial buildings in Norway. It contains a backgroung, hypothesis, methodology, and expected conclusions.
Energy Efficiency in Existing Commercial Buildings
In recent years, private sectors as well as government sectors have become increasingly aware of the impact that climate change and severe winters have on high energy prices. Buildings in Norway utilize a high level of energy and thus there is great scope for implementing eco-friendly upgrades for energy conservation. Most households and companies in Norway rely on electrcity to provide heating facilities. As a result, there is a shortage of electricity during the coldest parts of the year, especially in recent times. Not only does this place great pressure on the people who have to pay high electricity bills, but also on the gvernment which struggles to cope with peak season power demands. Hence, energy conservation is a crucial issue to be address in the context of economic growth.
Although energy conservation is possible through measures such as efficient lighting and ventilation systems, as a major part of the energy usage is taken up by heating, it is this aspect that needs to be addressed. According to government data, about 80% of the current mass of buildings will still be under occupation by the year 2050. Further, the mass is expected to grow by 1% every year. Hence, implementing energy saving and reduction technologies in existing buildings and structures holds the maximum potential. It is for this reason that energy rehabilitation has gained sizable attention in Norway as an effective method of addressing its growing need to conserve energy.
Recent studies have revealed that the use of rehabilitative energy technologies in the current mass of buildings in Norway has the potential to reduce enregy consumption to half the current levels by the year 2040. The country introduced compulsory energy marking for all buildings from July 1, 2010. This has served as a major motivator for owners as well as construction firms to utilize energy efficient techniques and technologies in existing as well as upcoming buildings. The regulation also enabled government agencies to distinguish between energy efficient building and those with high power consumption. Increasing the price for power reduces the cost of implementing conservation meaures and improves the liklihood of the initiative’s success.
1.1 Why go through a refit?
One of the most important and lucrative reasons why consumers as well as the givernment should consider energy rehabilitation is the substantial reduction in energy consumption and the related cost saving implications. However, although investment made in the implementation of such measures is generally recovered within a span of a few years, investors still view energy efficiency measures as being an expenditure and forego its future profitability in favour of immidiate cost. This seems to be a global phenomenon, with governments of several countries enfrcing regulations to curb the growth of energy usage as a result of new developments. Framewrks have been created aimed at ensuring tha governments set and adhere to national emission objectives. Although these objectives and goals are a major challenge today, their future benefits are substantial.
The construction industry accounts for 30% of the yearly green house gas emissions and consumes 40% of total energy generated. As such, if energy conservation initiatives are to be successful, their implementation in the construction sector is pivotal. This study will evaluate the possibility of making existing commercial buildings more energy efficient. The study will seek to analyze what measures can be possible, and how reasonable each would be towards making the existing mass of buildings eco-friendly and energy efficient, and yet bring a healthy return on investment for owners and investors. The focus of the study will not be on the environemntal impact of energy consumtion and conservation, but rather on the economic implications of the refit initiatives. Major factors such as heating, cooling, ventilation, lighting, equipment and appliances, which have the major consumers of energy with form the center of this research.
2 Hypothesis and Research Question
- Which technological refits can be implemented?
- Who could bear the cost - tenant or landlord?
- Which refits are most likely to bring the biggest profit?
- What benefit will it bring to both the tenant and the landlord?
In order to reach a reasonable conclusion, the study will need to delve into several aspects of every consumption and conservation which may have an impact on the refit work in a building. Some of such aspects include:
- National and European Laws and regulations
- Barriers in the market: Factors that may complicate energy-efficiency upgrading. For example, energy-efficiency investments are perceived to be costly and risky, falling markets, the financial crisis.etc
- 2010 Energy-marking of buildings
- Different energy-efficient refits: Minor and major refits.
- Negotiations on green leases: Owner/tenant relations.
- Trends in the property market
- Change in property value
- Profit and risks: Return on investment and gestation period
This study with take into consideration on existing commercial and office buildings, and minor rehabilitations or refits for the purpose of making them energy efficient. This segment of the construction industry has been chosen as it not only covers the largest property area and consumed the maximum amount of energy, but is also expected to remain so for several decades to come . Minor rehabilitations are those that are neither new builds nor total rehabilitation.
The researcher began working on this study while attending a seminar on this subject in Bergen, Norway in September 2012. The researcher used this opportunity to meet some key persons within the building energy-efficiency sector in Norway. Both green building societies and commercial building societies were present at this seminar. The researcher collected literature on the subject. As energy-efficiency is a relatively new topic in Norway, there is little literature available, and it is in a state of constant change due to innovation. This is why most of the literature is found in news articles, research reports and other periodicals. Where there is insufficient literature to review, key persons will be interviewed including tenants, product manufactures, and construction companies.
The economical aspect of energy-efficiency will be investigated through a review of the literature mentioned above. Further, the researcher has created a case study on how to make a specific oil-heated office-building of 1300 square meters energy-efficient. This will show if a part rehabilitation will be sufficient to make this building meet today`s and future demands in energy consumption. It will also show if the rehabilitation provides the owners sufficient return on investment. The case study contains details about the original energy usage as well as the improved usage after the alterations had been conducted. It will also highlight what kind of arrangements the tenants are willing to accept as the profit as well as cost will be divided, with tenants paying higher rent and lower utility bills. The report will also include 3 other case studies, not undertaken by the researcher, to cross examine the findings and conclusion.
In order to effective answer the research questions and draw a reasonable conclusion, the researcher seeks to map aspects of this subject as possible. This factor has guided the selection of literature to be reviews as well as research methods. This prospective study will mainly rely on qualitative methods, by collecting relevant literature, interviewing key-persons in this field, and a case-study. A prospective study, unlike the retrospective method, relies on observing the development of situations or the sequence of events that may lead to an outcome. Instead of looking at events in the reverse order from a pre-defined outcome, the prospective study looks ahead in time to predict the outcome of events.Qualitative research seeks to describe the complex nature of humans and how individuals perceive their own experiences within a specific social context . Instead of relying purely on numerical data, this research evaluates feedback taken in narrative form from the subjects through interviews, surveys, observation, questionnaires, and case studies.Once data collection has been completed, the data will be analyzed for relevance to theories and expected conclusions. Adherences and diversions between theory and realism will be noted.
4 Expected Conclusions
That applying modern energy-efficient solution on ventilation, insulation, heating, lighting and equipment on existing commercial buildings will lower the running costs to the extent that it will prove to be profitable in the future. In addition, it will become more attractive on the property market for both potential buyers and tenant for its eco-friendliness and energy efficiency.
Odyssee-Mure, 2010. Energy Efficiency Policies and Measures in Norway. [Online] Available at: http://www.odyssee-indicators.org/publications/PDF/norway_nr.pdf[Accessed 6 December 2012].
Portney, L. G. & Watkins, M. P., 2009. Foundations of Clinical Research: Applications to Practice, Third Edition. New Jersey: Pearson/Prentice Hall Health.