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UK buildings falling short of design estimates

Published: 11th April 2016

UK buildings falling short of design estimates

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Buildings in the UK have been producing an average of 3.8 times more carbon emissions than the typical design estimate, according to new research from Innovate UK.

The study examines six years of data from Innovate UK’s Building Performance Evaluation (BPE) Programme. It reveals that only 1 of the 49 public buildings studied produced the amount of carbon emissions specified in its design estimate.

‘Building Performance Evaluation Programme: Findings From Non-Domestic Projects’, identifies complicated energy controls and challenging Building Management Systems (BMS) as significant factors in the increase of carbon emissions from initial estimates, while also emphasising how simplicity in the design of energy mechanisms needs to be improved.

A second research paper, ‘Building Performance Evaluation Programme: Findings From Domestic Projects’, finds that various houses in its 76-home study did not initially meet standards for building fabric and system efficiencies, despite having been designed for energy efficiency, with developers carefully specifying, developing and building the properties.

Heat loss and “teething problems” with a number of new technologies are among the main issues with houses that fail to meet carbon-reduction expectations, according to the report, which highlights the fact that some of the targets impact the legal commitment by the UK to reduce greenhouse gases by 870 per cent by 2050.

The study also cites the use of unnecessarily complex controls in domestic energy systems and neglecting handovers to residents when rushing to finish projects as major contributors to reduced performance in low-carbon buildings, while acknowledging that all homes achieved better than the minimum air tightness standards.

The release of the two reports coincides with the launch of The Building Data Exchange, set up by data sharing organisation The Digital Catapult, which aims to provide previously unexplored information on best practice and pitfalls in the construction of modern, energy efficient buildings, collected through the BPE programme.

(from Energy in Buildings & Industry – March 2016)

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