Graduate Project Manager, Jason Crozier, explored the topical issue of the Energy Performance Gap in his recent dissertation, which has been awarded the Construction Dissertation Prize by Oxford Brookes University.

International agreements to reduce carbon emissions continue to put pressure on the construction industry to design and build in an environmentally-friendly way. However, recent Building Performance Evaluation studies have highlighted an alarming disparity between the design intents and actual performance of new buildings. The research study investigates this issue and looked into solutions to mitigate the Energy Performance Gap in new build non-domestic properties.

The nature of the problem

The research studied a range of factors: those that are within the direct control of a project team and those outside their direct scope:

Statutory policies and
ineffective regulatory bodies
Design and technology
User Build
Commissioning and handover Performance testing

Mitigation measures

Following extensive research through literature review, qualitative and quantitative research in the form of interviews with a ‘project team’ and surveys, the study concluded that there are multiple reasons for the Energy Performance Gap being such a widespread issue.

Jason presented a range of mitigation measures including closer collaboration across professional boundaries, altering the make up of the project team and encouraging the end user to maximise the building’s potential. While some of the suggestions represent a significant statutory shift, others are low scale amendments to professional actions that could lead to critical gains.

A few of the suggestions:

mini yellow chevron as bullet pointEngage facilities management team on project team: allow the input early in the project to develop an optimal design mini yellow chevron as bullet pointLobby statutory bodies to alter approach: enable freer interpretation of regulatory recommendations
 mini yellow chevron as bullet pointUse of BIM to support engagement with facilities management team and building operation  mini yellow chevron as bullet pointFinal remuneration of professional fees after the defects period, which includes ongoing measurement of outcomes
 mini yellow chevron as bullet pointUse plain English not technical jargon to help ensure client engagement  mini yellow chevron as bullet pointIncentivise users to save energy and understand how to use technology
 mini yellow chevron as bullet pointConduct value engineering only during the design phase, preventing later changes that might impact energy efficiency  mini yellow chevron as bullet pointEnsure commissioning and handover periods are realistic. Consider contractual protection.