1.1 Background. 2

1.2 Aim… 3

1.3 Objectives. 3


2.1 Introduction. 3

2.2 An Understanding of Existing Commercial Office Buildings and Their Energy Usage. 4

2.3 Analysis of the Different Refurbishment Methods that are available in the Industry and How They Will Help Achieve the Net-Zero Low Emissions Standards. 6

2.4 Eco-Friendly Materials and Refurbishment Methods to be used in Different Projects. 8

2.4 Compliance with the UK’s Net-Zero Emissions Law.. 9


3.1 Introduction. 10

3.2 Books. 10

3.3 Online Research. 10

3.4 Case Study. 10

3.5 Problem Encountered. 11


1.1 Background

The UK government considers climate change to be the greatest challenge facing humanity and in May 2019, Parliament declared a ‘climate change emergency’, (ref at the bottom of page) for this reason the government have recommended the need to reduce its carbon emissions. Prime Minister Theresa May said there was a “moral duty to leave this world in a better condition than what we inherited”. She goes on to say that Cutting emissions would benefit public health and cut NHS costs. (second ref at the bottom)


Published in 2008, the Climate Change Act was the UK’s way of approaching and responding to climate change (ref 1). The Act makes it the duty of the UK government to ensure that the net UK carbon account for greenhouse gas emissions for the year 2050 is at least 80% lower than the 1990 baseline, (ref2). Also introduced were ‘carbon budgets’ which cap emissions over successive 5-year periods and must be set 12 years in advance (ref 3) The Climate Change Act also requires the UK to produce a UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) every five years, this assesses current and future risks to and opportunities for the UK from climate change. In addition, the Climate Change Act requires the UK Government to produce a National Adaptation Programme (NAP) to respond to the risk assessment. (ref 4)


The Climate adaptation policy is a devolved matter: Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have each established their own adaptation programmes. This NAP is primarily for England as well as covering UK reserved matters. The UK Administrations are committed to working closely together to share best practice and develop UK wide initiatives where appropriate (ref5).


In line with advice from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) on 2 May 2019, The Scottish Parliament’s Environment Committee acted immediately by lodging amendments to the Bill to set a target date of 2045 for reaching net-zero emissions. The amendments to the Bill also raised the ambition of the 2030 and 2040 targets to 70% and 90% emissions reductions respectively. The Scottish Parliament’s Environment Committee voted in favour of these targets on 18 June 2019 (ref6)


All parts of the UK must contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, including the built environment, (ref 7)


The built environment will face a variety of challenges from a changing climate, including overheating and flood risks. Impacts will vary in scale and intensity between locations and countries, but all urban areas will, to some extent, have to adapt. Buildings and infrastructure that make up the built environment inevitably have long lifetimes (ref8). These buildings affect the environment during their entire lifetime, which includes production materials, construction, operation, maintenance, disassembly and waste management.


Natural resources are consumed during these phases, the land is used, waste produced, and emissions are released to the environment. The effect on the environment may remain for years after a building has been demolished. (ref8)

With over 1.35 million non-domestic buildings being over 25years old: the need for more practical refurbishment strategies to help decarbonise and future proof old buildings against climate change is vital (NG et al. 2018) (ref 8)

1.2 Aim


This dissertation aims to focus on a variety of ways to improve the energy efficiency of an existing commercial office building; to comply with the UK’s net-zero emissions law that was introduced into the UK and to make sure that it does not affect the use of the building. It focuses only on commercial office buildings, but it can be integrated into any other commercial office building.

1.3 Objectives


  1. To develop a more comprehensive understanding of existing commercial office buildings and their energy usage.
  2. To analyse the different refurbishment methods that are available within the industry and how they will help achieve the new low emissions standards.
  3. To gain knowledge of new eco-friendly materials and refurbishment methods that can be used in a variety of different projects.
  4. To look at different countries that have already implemented to low emission materials and see how that can be implemented into a building in the UK and if there are any changes that need to be made.


2.1 Introduction


In recent years, there has been significant progress in the improvement of the energy efficiency of new buildings. The current technology developments and various regulatory frameworks, combined with policy initiatives, have been critical in driving forward the concept of energy efficiency in buildings. Even though much focus has been on the new buildings, there has been a shift toward the older buildings with efforts being directed toward the refurbishment of existing commercial office buildings aimed at meeting the energy strategies of 2050.


Further, there is a large percentage of existing commercial buildings, which have significantly lower efficiency state compared to the new ones. Consequently, the existing commercial buildings are likely to consume enormous amounts of energy going into the future. Thus, there is concern about what needs to be done to address the issue of refurbishing existing commercial office buildings to ensure that existing structures meet the established energy strategies of 2050. Concerning that, various regulatory policy instruments have been utilised across the globe that are aimed at driving energy performance improvements in current commercial buildings. The goal is to ensure that existing structures meet the established regulatory guidelines with regards to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Here, a detailed review is provided, which aims at demonstrating the knowledge of existing commercial office buildings regarding their utilisation of energy. Next, an analysis of different refurbishment methods available is described and how they can help attain low emission standards. Finally, the review will highlight new eco-friendly materials and refurbishment methods to be utilised in different projects to reduce emissions while meeting the energy strategies of 2050.


2.2 An Understanding of Existing Commercial Office Buildings and Their Energy Usage


Commercial office buildings play a critical role in the campaign against climate change. The understanding of the global status of such buildings concerning energy usage is essential since it highlights progress in policies, stalling of investments growth in the energy efficiencies and understanding of emissions.


According to the 2018 Global Status Report, trends in energy consumption and energy-related carbon emissions for global buildings are varied. In particular, there is an increase in final energy consumption by buildings by roughly 5% between the years 2010 and 2017. Further, the report suggests a decline in efficient energy gains that mainly can be attributed to strong growth in the building sector activity and energy service demand. Also, commercial buildings have witnessed an increase in the use of electricity usage that is not a clean energy transition as depicted by a raise in fossil fuels in global electricity production. In essence the report affirms the fact that the current commercial buildings have not adhered to practical energy usage. Allouhi, El Fouih, Kousksou, Jamil, Zeraouli, and Mourad (2015) reiterate the need to adopt a good understanding of the structure and nature of energy use in commercial buildings for the establishment of adequate future energy change policies. In the study, Allouhi et al. (2015) indicate that there is a need for building to adopt measures that would be critical in ensuring the attainment of sound energy states. Despite concerted efforts to ensure proper energy usage, more needs to be done to meet the established 2050 goals in commercial buildings. The sentiments are echoed by Gandhi and Brager (2016), who states the need for further research in commercial buildings to examine the issue of energy use. The findings of Gandhi and Brager (2016) show that commercial buildings have adopted behaviour-based interventions, including reductions of plug load energy consumption, to reduce usage. The results are an indication of the state of commercial buildings and some measures being undertaken to mitigate against rising energy usages.


Ürge-Vorsatz, Cabeza, Serrano, Barreneche, and Petrichenko (2015) explored the utilisation of energy in buildings, drivers with reference to the past, present and future trends in the global and regional basis. According to the researchers, there is substantial growth in the role of electricity while the direct use of coal is declining. The commercial buildings have embraced mainly electricity and natural gas to meet their energy demands. Further, the authors indicate that there is little dominance in the use of biomass. The findings are a reflection of the limited diversity regarding the forms of energy use.


Consequently, in advocating for the 2050 goals of green energy, there is a need to explore the alternative sources of energy. Mainly, this can be achieved through innovation and the building sector working toward more renewable sources. Ürge-Vorsatz et al. (2015) further identified the driving factors of energy demands in commercial buildings that included aspects of specific energy consumption for heating and cooling, floor space per capita, and GDP. Such factors are critical in determining the overall energy consumption by commercial buildings. Lazarova-Molnar, Kjærgaard, Shaker, and Jørgensen (2015) report that the existing commercial buildings depict significant challenges with regard to energy efficiency domain.


Further, Lazarova-Molnar et al. (2015) the need for commercial buildings to measure business performance and energy performance and ways the two factors relate with each other. A crucial issue highlighted regards the need to consider other factors, including actively involving the occupants of commercial buildings in the optimisation of overall energy performance. Commercial buildings have a mandate of ensuring that they actively address the issue of energy usage from different perspectives (Deloitte, European Powers of Construction report, 2008). Most importantly, the adoption of critical measures such as investment in green energy is essential.


Ruparathna, Hewage, and Sadiq (2016) explored the improvement of energy efficiency in commercial buildings. Efforts toward the enhancement of energy efficiency are vital since it will address the issue of climate change while achieving energy independence to net-zero energy. In the research, the authors review the knowledge on the improvements in energy efficiency in commercial and institutional buildings. The findings of the review primarily indicate the lack of building behavioural changes in mitigating technical and organisational changes as a way of dealing with the issue of energy use (McNeil, Feng, du Can, Khanna, Ke, and Zhou, 2016). Therefore, the ability of existing commercial buildings to achieve efficient energy utilisation is dependent on the adoption of strategies that will improve their energy consumption practices. A key finding is a desire by most commercial buildings to attain sustainability concerning energy usage. The International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation (2017) reports that there is a large percentage of existing buildings which are less efficient but have significant opportunities for improvement. However, there is the challenge of determining and implementing the most efficient set of policies to improve the existing building stock, especially for energy policymakers across the globe (Barnes and Parrish, 2016). Concern exists regarding the overall consumption rate of buildings that were constructed before the implementation of current improvement energy performance regulations. Such fears are further confirmation of the fact that contemporary commercial buildings lack efficient energy usage; hence, the need to strive toward their implementation. Ideally, with the vision 2050 in places, the existing commercial buildings can be restricted to meet the goals and ensure buildings are sustainable.


2.3 Analysis of the Different Refurbishment Methods that are available in the Industry and How They Will Help Achieve the Net-Zero Low Emissions Standards.


The exacerbating effect of climate change establishes the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Consequently, there is a need for different sectors to work together to ensure the attainment of improved energy performance by the year 2050. Therefore, the adoption of sound refurbishment methods for existing commercial buildings will be critical in improving energy usage and an overall reduction in greenhouse gases, which are emitted (Rahman, Srikumar, and Smith, 2018). However, in order to adapt effectively to sustainable refurbishment methods, it is vital to understand the technical merits and feasibility of the options in consideration. Ng, Gong, and Loveday (2014) explored existing refurbishment methods to enhance energy performance in buildings. In a study that involved a total of 46 potential approaches, the researchers identified a range of techniques that could be adopted by upcoming buildings to improve energy performance.

The first method that can be adopted by existing commercial buildings in doing the refurbishment includes energy efficiency appliances. Ideally, utilisation of electricity appliances entails huge amounts of energy; therefore, selecting efficient methods can help in reducing overall consumption (Bianchi, Tran, Mendoza, Smith, and Didier, 2016). Existing commercial buildings can embrace the method and ensure, and restructuring is done to adhere to efficient appliances (Wang, Xu, Lu, and Yuan, 2016). The method would be critical since it would lead to a reduction in the amount of energy which is utilised by the commercial buildings (Borgstein, Lamberts, and Hensen, 2017). For example, owners of the commercial buildings can look out for those with labelling schemes, including Green Seals that indicate their reduction in energy use. The method can be scaled up to major commercial buildings because of the potential that it has been in ensuring the overall decrease in the amount of energy utilised.

The next method that can be adopted entails the use of the motion sensors. The technique has been proven sustainable, and this can be fitted to existing commercial buildings. For example, the buildings can be equipped with light switches that automatically turn off the lights in an empty room. Therefore, if an individual leaves the room and forgets to turn off the lights, energy still can be saved since the light would automatically go off (Greco, Konstantinou, Schipper, Binnekamp, Gerritsen, de Graaf, van den Dobbelsteen, Habert, and Schlueter, 2016). The commercial buildings need to ensure that they install occupancy sensors in areas that have intermittent usage, in addition to the easy to understand labels that remind the users of the need to turn off the lights if they are not in use (Kim and Srebric, 2017). Investments should be directed towards such refurbishments since it would help in reducing the overall usage of electricity while striving to meet the vision 2050 goals on sound electricity usage.

The use of LED Lighting can be adopted as an acceptable refurbishment method through the utilisation of low energy lamps. The existing commercial buildings can utilise such techniques since they do not generate excessive heat when they are switched on. Commercial buildings currently employing other sourced of energy can embrace the identified alternatives of energy sources for the potential that they have in ensuring the reduction in overall energy usage (Santamouris, 2018). However, in adopting such methods, it is vital to ensure that other factors such as cost, performance, and electrical efficiency must be taken into consideration when adopting them. The goal is to ensure that the refurbishment meets the established standards aimed at mitigated against Climate change that is becoming a global issue.

Akadiri, Chinyio, and Olomolaiye (2012) evaluated methods that can be adopted to help buildings toward the reduction of energy use while promoting renewable sources. According to the researchers, insulting buildings envelopes can help address the issue of energy use. Akadiri et al. (2012) state that the method has the most significant impact on energy expenditure and can help reduce the usage. The technique involves designing and installing the insulation material that will reduce the amount of heat that is lost via the buildings (Zou, Jiang, Yang, Xie, and Spanos, 2017). The heat loss and draughts will be eliminated through an airtightness strategy with a modified plaster (Vrettos, Kara, MacDonald, Andersson, and Callaway, 2016). Further, through the method, it would be possible to recover heat, especially in areas that have high temperatures, such as kitchens and bathrooms that at the same time achieve the optimal energy efficiency via mechanical ventilation units (Touchaei, Hosseini, and Akbari, 2016). The method further makes it possible to redirect the saved energy to other alternative areas within the building, significantly reducing overall consumption levels.

Finally, the refurbishment method that can be adopted includes the use of recycling materials that cut results in a reduction in the amount of energy which is utilised within the building. Further, the emissions that cause pollution can be managed, and this will be critical in helping toward measures aimed at addressing the vision 2050 goals of sustainable energy usage in existing commercial buildings. The designers can adopt the suggested methods in refurbishing buildings in line with climate change mitigation efforts (Khosrowpour, Gulbinas, and Taylor, 2016).

2.4 Eco-Friendly Materials and Refurbishment Methods to be used in Different Projects


The ability to achieve net-zero energy use in the existing commercial buildings largely depends on the decision by their owners to adopt the use of eco-friendly materials. While making adjustments for the buildings, there is a need to ensure that appropriate materials are utilised for such projects (Hong, Piette, Chen, Lee, Taylor-Lange, Zhang, Sun, and Price, 2015). The adoption of innovative approaches can be instrumental in the realisation of success concerning the achievement of the vision 2050 on sustainable commercial buildings. New materials and technological devices have allowed flexibility that is needed in developing plans that can satisfy the established standards of sustainability that largely depends on the use of eco-friendly materials (Babaei, Abdi, Lim, and Nahavandi, 2015).

The first eco-friendly material that can be adapted in refurbishing the buildings entails the use of architectural films. This material is effective in helping reduce the heating and cooling costs by considerable measures. This material is effective in helping reduce the heating and cooling costs by significant measures. This material can be adopted for existing commercial buildings. Mainly, it can be applied to the windows and helps in keeping away a significant percentage of heat from the sun while allowing streamlined regulation of the building’s interior temperature. Also, the film is effective in reducing CO2 emissions while providing protective properties that deflect the ultraviolet rays (Luo, Hong, Chen, and Piette, 2017). Therefore, in refurbishing the existing commercial buildings, it can be essential to consider the adoption of architectural films (Arcuri, Spataru, and Barrett, 2017).

The use of prefabricated construction materials can equally be vital since they are eco-friendly. For example, in using precast concrete, it results in the production of little waste and has no impact on the quality of air (Ma, Du, Yu, Lu, Zhang, Deng, and Li, 2017). In addition, the material is made from recycled components, hence, reducing overall waste demolition. Therefore, existing commercial buildings can opt for this form of eco-friendly materials for refurbishment.


Recently, a Biowall was developed at Purdue University, and its essential function is reducing CO2 emissions. Mainly, the contaminants that are found within the specific commercial building flow via the plants and microbes in root zones metabolise the harmful compounds. However, using Biowall commercial buildings save over 25% of HVAC energy use. The wall has filters with the ability to eliminate irritants that are likely to linger in an airtight room. Thus, existing commercial buildings can opt for such a material to ensure that there is an overall reduction in the number of greenhouse gases emitted to the atmosphere (Park and Krarti, 2016). Overall, the future of sustainable buildings and net-zero energy usage in commercial settings can be achieved through improved building practices and moving away from the traditional methods to green alternatives (Cai, Ramdaspalli, Pipattanasomporn, Rahman, Malekpour, and Kothandaraman, 2018). In practical, utilising eco-friendly materials can help in achieving the 2050 goals of net-zero energy usage.

Finally, the use of passive solar buildings design in the existing commercial settings can be instrumental in reducing overall energy usage. The design is eco-friendly since it ensures that the sun id made an integral part of the heating and cooling system of the sun (Shiel, 2016). The design is heap compared to the formal solar panels. In addition, the building materials contain high thermal mass that makes it possible to retain heat effectively. Therefore, in making the design, commercial buildings can adopt the technique and use it in the process of refurbishment (Chakraborty, 2017).

2.4 Compliance with the UK’s Net-Zero Emissions Law

In working toward the attainment of the established goals of 2050, commercial office buildings have the mandate of ensuring that they comply with the UK net-zero emissions law. Mainly, the focus is on adopting necessary actions which are critical in accelerating refurbishment but within the confines of the UK law. The initiatives can be utilised through various approaches. For example, there is the concept of educating the workforce involved in the refurbishment process. According to the UK taskforce report in 1998, it was established that quality improvement and cost reduction would only be at if the workforce where skilled enough to achieve such initiatives. Therefore, it is critical to identify key measures that are vital and can be taken into consideration to help in making the defined goals of net-zero energy usage in commercial buildings (Amasyali and El-Gohary, 2018).

In summary, existing commercial office buildings can be restructured in such a way that they comply with the established standards aimed at improving energy performance. The identified refurbishment methods can be critical in helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions while ensuring sustainability. In doing so, established laws must be taken equally into consideration to ensure compliance with UK laws


3.1 Introduction

The Author has an interest in the conservation and refurbishment of existing office buildings in Scotland while still retaining the characteristics of the building and recycling as much of the waste materials as possible. This chapter will explain the different methods of research that have been involved in completing this research paper sucssefully.

3.2 Books

While researching material for this research paper the author came across two books that helped the author understanding the topic more and gave a good insite to what materials and methods have been used in the past and what can be used in the future and how the methodes have evolved into what some of them are today. The author read throought a lot off different book but the two that helped her write this papaere were (add book titles here)

3.3 Online Research

As it is easier to get upto date articles and papers on the internet that is where a large part of the Literature Review came from. While researching articles to put into that section the author focused on researching office resurbishments, refurbishment methods and materials and also researching the carbon 2050 legigslations to see what materials and methods can be used to meet these standards set by the UK government. The author the read and analysed all of the papaers to see what information would be relevant for this research paper. Once this was all done it was just a case of getting the structure of the literature review right so that the information that the author has collected would be able to read and flow well.

3.4 Case Study

For this research paper a lot of different off buildings were looked at and compared to see what or if some of the methods talked about in the literatre review have been implemented into the office building and if they are helping to reduce the CO2 emmisions of the building and what still could be done to the building to help it meet the building standards for 2050. The case study was finally decided on when there was a building in Aberdeen that had been refurbished and the author had previously worked on the building.

3.5 Problem Encountered

There were a few problems when trying to research papers for the literature review as a lot of papers being too old or they did not have the information that was needed for the research paper. Another problem that I encountered was not a lot of people filling in the survey fast enough so that p ushed the analysis of the results back by a couple of days. The final problem I encountered was finding the right case study for the research paper that had some of the methodes and materials that have been discussed in this research paper and being allowed access to complete the survey.