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BuildingPhysics, a rather different to other building services engineering firms.  We apply a Pragmatic Sustainability approach to buildings.

Our primary concern is helping our clients reduce fossil fuel use, but our designs also consider occupant health, the local and global environment, use by future generations, while still accepting the reality of financial constraints.

SANS 10400-XA - Energy Efficiency and Energy Use in the Built Environment

August 2012

SANS 10400-XA, published in August 2011, is the new part of the South African standard for environmental sustainability and energy usage in buildings, and forms part of the National Building Regulations. For now, its focus is purely on energy consumption and maximum energy demand. In order to comply with the standard, various “deemed to satisfy” insulation and glazing requirements are provided, with some sections requiring compliance with parts of SANS 204 (meeting all SANS 204 requirements would automatically meet all requirements for SANS 10400-XA).

While the “deemed to satisfy” approach will lead to an efficient building, it is still a general solution that can sometimes be difficult to meet, and can almost always be improved upon by a custom design optimised for a particular building’s unique demands. Fortunately, the standard allows for a competent person (that’s us!) to certify a design based purely on a building’s theoretical performance (total and peak energy usage, as well as occupant comfort, need to be proven to exceed SANS 10400-XA requirements). This isn’t a “get out of jail free card” – but it does mean that unnecessary costs can be avoided, and only those aspects that genuinely improve the performance of your particular building need to be implemented.

If you are struggling to interpret SANS 10400-XA, don’t hesitate to contact us for help!

Read more: SANS 10400-XA - Energy Efficiency and Energy Use in the Built Environment


Overshadowing & Reflections

Overshadowing is a crucial and often overlooked aspect of building design. Surrounding structures, vegetation and landscape can have a major effect on a building’s performance and occupant comfort – not to mention a building’s impact on its surroundings!  While many modern CAD packages can quickly give an indication of shadows, detailed modelling allows for the true impact on energy, lighting and glare for all possible conditions throughout a simulated year.

Shading Study - Overlapping shadows for each hour of a day in August clearly illustrate overshadowing at a glance.


Inter-reflection of buildings - Solar reflections off of building façades and roofs can pose unique challenges to proper daylight control of a building. Here, the reflection off of a warehouse roof onto an adjacent office building is illustrated. Annual simulations make it easy to identify problems that may otherwise have been missed.

Luminance False Colour Visualisation

Luminance False Colour Visualisation - A rendering for determining the amount of light reflecting off of a building at a given time of day.


HVAC Modelling

HVAC stands for heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and is the collective name given to the mechanical systems that ensure occupant comfort. While every effort is put into creating a comfortable building without the use of HVAC, most buildings require some mechanical intervention. Large savings are available through selecting appropriate system types and sizes, and applying intelligent scheduling and operation of these systems in order to reduce peak energy loads, while minimizing overall energy use. Detailed models of the building and HVAC system allow multiple solutions to be tested and optimized, and potential savings can be quantified.
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Indoor CFD - Computational Fluid Dynamics can be used to determine airflows within a building, which can be very useful for evaluating occupant comfort. In this image, a less conventional method of cool air delivery is being tested.


Fire and Smoke Modelling

Fire and smoke modelling is the application of CFD to the problems of detecting fires and predicting their potential spread. Dynamic models are built for analysis of various fire scenarios, most commonly to assist in laying out adequate fire detection systems. Smoke and toxin density and movement, as well as temperature rise, are all predicted.
Fire suppression systems can also be modelled, and in conjunction with evacuation simulations, can ensure efficient and effective protection of property and preservation of life.
Smoke Comparison - A comparison of the smoke from two fires of equal size, but different intensities. It’s not immediately clear in the image, but the data shows that the higher intensity fire’s smoke rises faster, and will therefore be detected sooner than the lower intensity fire of the same size.

Energy Efficiency Building Science

energy meter s

Download - Must Reads

Review of SANS204 :: by Mike Barker

Review of Sans204

An initiative that came out of the Department of Minerals & Energy’s 2005 Energy Efficiency Strategy that targeted a 15% Final Energy Demand reduction...
It's the Architecture, Stupid! :: by Edward Mazria

It's the Architecture, Stupid!

Who really holds the key to the global thermostat? The answer might surprise you...
Green Building Impact Review :: by Rob Watson

Green Building Impact Review

Green Building Report: Although this is about the US market, it gives some idea of where Green Buildings are going in the future.

Recommended Reading



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We bring you an informative summary relating to high performance green buildings. Not everyone has the time to keep up with best practice in the field so we offer to drop the most important and relevant development into your inbox once a quarter. - Tel: +27 11 4544 857 - Cell: + 27 83 726 9593

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