What is Fabric First?

23 April 2018 Tara McDonnell
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As building design moves towards NZEB and we all become more and more focused on creating energy efficient homes and buildings. The word fabric first is becoming more and more popular within the construction industry but what is Fabric First?

What is Fabric First?
Fabric first is an approach to building design the looks at maximising the energy performance of the structure itself through the components and materials making up the building envelope. This is before renewable mechanical and electrical building services are considered.
In other words, constructing your building to save energy for you before renewable technologies are factored in.

A Fabric First approach
A well designed fabric first approach can, on its own, reduce energy consumption and therefore lessen bills in any building type. This approach factors in a number of aspects such as a high level of thermal insulation, an excellent level of air tightness and a design that maximises elements such as building orientation making the most of solar gains by harvesting free energy from the sun. This can be achieved through the likes of maximising south facing windows, while also minimising over heating during the summer periods by either fixed or moveable solar shading.

What are the benefits?

  • Saving energy
  • Require very little energy to heat and cool
  • Reduced running costs of a building
  • Comfortable occupancy all year around
  • Reduction in C02 emissions
  • Fabric first is low maintenance/ replacement costs
  • New build and retrofit
What are the goals?
  1. Reducing u-values of mass or thermal elements. 
  2. Reducing the effects of thermal bridging.
  3. Effective airtightness and ventilation strategies. 
  4. Consideration of other service improvements. 

Advice from our Technical Manager
Our Technical Manager Alan Macklin wrote a guest blog on the implementing a fabric first approach as part of the initial investment. It’s as easy as 1,2,3!

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