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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Energy conservation in office buildings Leu, Max Hans


This study presents a framework for the introduction of energy considerations into the design of office buildings. The method of research and development of this study has been through a literature search combined with personal design experience in the field of commercial buildings, and the previous participation in the national competition for low energy building design. The thesis is in two parts. The first part investigates the historical development of offices up to now and shows that current office design practice establishes a pattern of high energy consumption that is carried forward for decades. It is shown how and where energy is used in office buildings and their urban context. The need to rethink settlement patterns is outlined and the concept of decentralization and mixed use developments is suggested to improve overall energy efficiency in the urban context. The second part presents energy conservation strategies, from a designer's point of view, that improve energy efficiency of office buildings. Five basic strategies are introduced and examined at the planning levels of site, lay-out, form and fabric: i) to control internal heat gains ii) to control solar heat gains iii) to minimize heat losses iv) to optimize natural ventilation v) to maximize daylight capabilities of buildings The thesis shows that the implementation of these strategies presents the architect with considerable scope for innovation rather than imposition. However, it is emphasized that the architect must be aware of the consequences of his design decisions. The factors causing the energy use in office buildings are interrelated. Therefore, once a particular strategy is adopted its consequences have to be recognized and dealt with on all planning levels. The thesis concludes that energy conservation offers architects the opportunity to design offices in a way they need less energy and provide a better working environment than it is the case today.

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