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Buildings energy efficiency

Learn how improving building fabric, upgrading insulation and installing appropriate controls can save you money and help cut carbon emissions.


Energy loss from a typical building

Around 75% of an industrial unit’s heat is lost through the building fabric. 

Our Building fabric guide examines how to take a  “fabric first” approach to improving the energy performance of any building.

The building fabric refers to the roof, walls, windows, floors and doors of a building.


Improving and maintaining the building fabric offers many advantages and opportunities:

  • Reduced energy and maintenance costs
  • Better temperature control and thermal comfort for occupants
  • Improved productivity
    • Output and morale are enhanced through reducing draughts, solar glare, overheating, colder areas, as well as noise.
  • Lower capital expenditure
    • A more efficient, well-insulated building requires smaller heating and cooling systems, or even none at all.
  • Good investment
    • Better insulation or well-maintained/modified building fabric can increase a building’s value and aesthetics.
  • Compliance with regulation 
    • The government stipulates a minimum efficiency requirement for both new build and existing buildings.


Free energy audit: Small and medium sized businesses in England, Wales and Scotland can apply now for an Energy opportunity assessment from the Carbon Trust Green Business Fund. Find out more


Who is this publication for?

Building owners and managers, energy managers, financial teams or anyone who wishes to improve internal comfort levels whilst reducing heating and cooling costs. In particular, this guide is useful to anyone who could benefit from the knowledge that building fabric should always be addressed first, so that HVAC systems can be optimised to operate at maximum efficiency.

Building fabric guide

Published March 2018

This 24-page technology overview guide introduces the main energy saving opportunities relating to building fabric and demonstrates how simple actions save energy, cut costs and increase comfort for building occupants.

The building fabric refers to the ceiling, walls, windows, floors and doors of a building. It plays the leading role in the energy efficiency of a structure and must be considered in the design and planning phase of a building. Optimum design of building fabric can minimise potential heating and cooling requirements, which may lead to the downsizing of heating and cooling systems or sometimes eliminate the need for them at all. It is also possible to significantly improve the energy related performance of the existing building fabric. The majority of energy savings available in existing buildings may only be cost effective as part of planned building refurbishment work, but there are a number of simple, low-cost measures that can be implemented as stand-alone projects.

This technology overview focuses mainly on achievable energy saving measures for existing buildings.

Building managers, energy managers and anyone involved in building management who wishes to improve internal comfort levels or reduce heating, cooling or ventilation costs, could benefit from the information provided in this guide. There are many techniques that can be implemented immediately, regardless of building type or fabric, and other actions which can best be undertaken during major refurbishment or new build. Examples of each can be found throughout this publication.

Building fabric energy efficiency guide

 Guide contents:

  • Introduction
  • Building fabric and energy consumption 
  • Importance of external factors 
  • Opportunities for energy saving
    • Roofs and lofts
    • Walls
    • Windows
    • Doors
    • Floors



Publication date: March 2018; Publication code: CTV069 v3

Information in this guide was correct at the time of publication

Download the guide:

Building Controls - Green Business Fund Technology Webinar

The below webinar for small businesses introduces those interested in learning more about effective building controls to the main energy saving opportunities around HVAC, Lighting, Manufacturing Systems and Motors and Drives. It also demonstrate how simple actions can save energy and cut costs and increase comfort for building occupants.

Webinar recorded 8 March 2018

Further guidance

The following publications are available for free download:

 Information in these guides was correct at the time of publication


Energy efficiency support

Looking to save energy and cut carbon? You may be interested in the following services:

  • Housing services for public and private sector clients - We work with local authorities and social landlords to upgrade their housing stock and tackle fuel poverty. We can support property developers, contractors and suppliers in their delivery of resource efficient housing and communities.
  • Financing and implementation support for organisations seeking to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy technology.
  • Green Business Directory listing Carbon Trust Accredited Suppliers of energy efficient and renewable energy technology


The Carbon Trust Green Business Fund also offers energy efficiency support and energy assessments for small and medium-sized businesses in England, Scotland and Wales.

If you'd like to improve energy efficiency of your organisation, see our services for small to medium enterprises to find out how we can help.

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