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Baker Homes Blog

Opportunity for involvement in national research on new build performance

Posted by Baker Homes on 23/09/15 07:00

There is increasing attention being paid to design versus as-built energy use. Some homes that were built to higher standards were tested and found not to be delivering the energy performance that had been specified – sometimes significantly underperforming. Understanding the reasons behind this ‘performance gap’ is vital to ensuring that new build homes are warmer, more comfortable to live in and cheaper to run.

Thermal imaging shows up where things may have gone wrong -but the 'performance gap' is more than that.

Many landlords have contacted us to ask about understanding the performance of their new build homes better. It is sometimes difficult to establish why homes are not performing as well as expected in reducing energy bills. Homes can give rise to higher energy bills than expected because of a number of reasons, only some of which are recognised by industry as constituting the performance gap. Examples include:

  • low energy literacy in the supply chain,
  • poor detailing by contractors,
  • behavioural/in-use factors by residents,
  • lack of incentives to drive improvement.

Those developing new homes have been making significant investment in more energy efficient dwellings; we need to make sure their investments will achieve the expected performance.

To address this issue, Baker Homes is undertaking the National Energy Study 3. This will build on findings from previous work to examine the way buildings behave in the real world, and seek to explain why as-built performance does not always match expectations for new build homes.

The NES 3 will collect energy use on 5-6 new build homes nominated by each participating organisation. The aim is to compare a representative sample of homes with similar typology and age throughout the UK to get to the bottom of the performance gap.

Analysis of data supplied on the specification for the homes will be undertaken to ascertain the expected energy in use for each property. During the study, those living in the homes will be interviewed about their level of energy use, occupancy, number of devices, comfort of the home, their understanding of bills and heating controls and attitudes to energy use in general.

The study will separate out any ‘underperformance’ attributable to resident behaviours and occupancy from more technical issues.

Part of the focus of NES 3 will be to evaluate the benefits attributable to more energy efficient homes and to consider the case for design standards for 2017 or beyond. This could help the UK make realistic evidence based decisions to meet the European ‘Near Zero’ Energy Buildings directive.

The EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD - 2002/91/EC) is the main European legislative instrument for improving the energy efficiency of Europe's building stock. Under the Directive, the following obligations were introduced in all Member States:

  • A methodology to calculate and rate the integrated energy performance of buildings.
  • A system of energy certification for new and existing buildings, with display requirements for public buildings.
  • Regular inspections of heating and air-conditioning systems.
  • Minimum energy performance standards for new buildings and for existing buildings that undergo major renovation with a useful floor area over 1000m2.

Come on board. Among the benefits of participating are:

  • A specific in-depth analysis of your homes and recommendations for improvement.
  • Be part of a nationally important piece of research, with acknowledgement in the report and press release.
  • Basis on which to demand more from those building and transition towards a performance-based approach.

Feedback from previous studies:

Nicola Scorer, Green Futures Manager, Gentoo Green said the report was “Excellent work delivered in a clear, concise and accurate manner with efficient updates and a great level of accuracy.”

Peter Armfield, Sustainability Manager, City West Homes commented that “The data and report feedback exceeded expectations.”

We would love to have you involved. The following research opportunity is for social landlords, developers of new homes and the supply chain. To register your interest and download a full proposal click below. Please note the deadline for involvement is 24th of October.



Topics: National Energy Study, New build, Performance gap

SHIFT Awards 2015, the UK’s sustainability awards for social landlords.
10th November 2015 | the Palace Hotel | Manchester
Submit your entry below.


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