Understanding Building Performance

Under the EU’s Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, the Government is responsible for ensuring all future buildings have an energy performance certificate once they are built and that all air conditioning systems installed over 12kw are regularly inspected by an energy assessor.

With this governing the reduction of CO2 in future buildings and as energy prices in the UK increase and building operating costs climb, property managers and owners are seeking out easy, sustainable options to lower the environmental impact of their buildings and to improve their bottom line.

To really make a difference to the environmental impact of commercial buildings and to significantly reduce costs, it is important that building managers fully understand the overall performance of their buildings from cost effectiveness to safety to accessibility and aesthetics.

Building performance evaluations can support various stages of a building’s lifecycle and can help users understand how to maximise efficiency, reduce operating costs and improve the overall performance of a building. This evaluation can be done using a range of techniques, which offer more detailed feedback on particular aspects of the buildings’ performance related to its design, construction, handover and operation.

The first step is to consult the Soft Landings Framework from BSRIA, which provides a guide for how designers and building managers can prepare for evaluation of their new buildings’ performance at the earliest possible stage.

For any building services engineer, the next step is then to consider how an integrated climate control system can be the basis of energy efficiencies. This is done by carrying out a detailed study of the heating and cooling loads and usage of the building at the design stage. This then helps engineers and building managers to design a balanced operation of the climate control systems, using recovered heat for the highest efficiencies.

For example, a typical office building can have demanding heating and cooling requirements but in order to ensure the most efficient balanced system it is vital to consider how best to service other demands from hot water in the wash rooms to individual office heating and cooling, IT rooms cooling, fresh air ventilation and over door air curtains.

Furthermore, real savings can be enhanced by the design and use of effective control and BMS systems.

Conducted at key points in a development programme, a successful evaluation and understanding of a building’s performance helps businesses to improve future procurement, construction or designs of commercial buildings, whether they are offices, schools, retail stores or hospitals.

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