Research to boost energy performance of new UK commercial buildings

Posted on

January 13, 2016

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A comprehensive study into energy performance in new commercial properties has been launched by the UK building industry.

image of commercial buildgs with energy performance markers
Commercial property study seeks to understand the performance gap

The aim of the research, led by the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) is to ensure that all new builds in the sector deliver the best performance, not only in energy use but also with minimum impact on the environment.

The study will look at design parameters, construction techniques and processes, and post-construction operation procedures. The focus is squarely on the commercial sector, although the UKGBC is continuing to push for more effective national action on energy efficiency across all property types.

The research is welcome at a time when national energy-saving and environmental strategies are in a state of flux. It is very useful to have renewed focus on efficiency and commercially-driven green processes, which should help to steer construction and buildings management in the right direction.

That direction needs to be towards continued reductions in running costs as well as contributing to the targets for lowering greenhouse gas emissions, within the overall goals set by the Paris COP21 climate conference last month.

The building sector consumes over a third of the world’s energy and in most countries is the largest source of carbon emissions.

Taking action

The study should also feed back into better performance across the board in the property sector. Our work with clients in a wide range of businesses has proven the benefits of taking action on energy efficiency and better water management.

From LED lighting to water-efficient eco taps and showers, smart pumps, heating and lighting controls, waterless urinals and eco toilets, our solutions have delivered impressive, ongoing energy and water savings to cut costs while cutting carbon footprint, helping companies to go beyond compliance.

The Delivering Building Performance research, which is sponsored by BuroHappold, Saint-Gobain and Tarmac Group will seek to identify how companies are currently trying to manage the challenges of building performance, and to illuminate best practice.

Importantly, the study also wants to find areas where there are barriers to efficiency and best environmental outcomes, as well as identifying gaps in processes from design through to occupancy and buildings management.

Performance gap

Currently, there is a growing awareness of an issue that must be addressed – the gap between expected performance and what actually occurs day-to-day. The UKGBC says that “all too often, predictions of the whole building performance are not accurately made nor communicated”.

This challenge was highlighted late last year with one prediction that the construction and property sector could face legal action over the “performance gap”, citing the VW-emissions scandal as a stark comparison for what can happen with efficiency claims.

During Construction Week, Rob Pannell, managing director of building industry advisory body Zero Carbon Hub, gave the warning when reporting that some buildings tested were consuming twice the energy compared with the energy performance rating.

The pressure on construction and property management companies will continue to increase as customers and clients seek guaranteed performance in the buildings they buy and lease.

Multiple benefits

And as UKGBC CEO Julie Hirigoyen says: “Huge cost, carbon and productivity benefits can be gained through a closer focus on the performance of buildings as we design, construct and operate them. Following the COP21 deal, this is just one of the ways in which the UK industry is showing its leadership and ambition.”

Duncan Price, sustainability director for sponsor firm BuroHappold’s adds: “Leading clients are looking beyond compliance to realising the multiple benefits of building performance including improved productivity, lower running costs and reduced environmental impact. This collaborative research will guide us all in how to achieve those benefits.”

The impulse to find out more about how the construction sector is meeting challenges was given a strong boost at the COP21 climate conference with the launch of the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction. The World Green Building Council pledged a global market transformation with net zero carbon new building and the energy efficiency retrofit of existing stock by 2050.


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