Innovate UK: BPE Outcomes

This paper was put together following the CBx evening event in November 2014, to summarise the open discussion around the knowledge and experiences from Innovate UK’s £8m commitment to fund the costs of building performance evaluation studies on domestic and non-domestic buildings. With special thanks to our fantastic panel of experts; Matt Colmer of Innovate UK, Munish Datta of Marks and Spencer, Esfandiar Burman of University College London, Rob Lambe of Willmott Dixon, and Kerry Mashford of the National Energy Foundation.

The Building Performance Evaluation (BPE) programme is one of the longest programmes that Innovate UK has run and has seen £8million put towards investigations of individual buildings in both the domestic and the non-domestic sectors. Funding was awarded for the performance evaluation of buildings at handover / early occupation and buildings in use no more than two years old at the time of joining the programme. While most of the case studies were new builds, the set included some refurbishments. Awarded over 7 tranches, the final portfolio consists of 53 domestic projects and 48 non-domestic projects, all of which are now coming to an end. A programme of dissemination will begin in early 2015.

Objectives set at the beginning of the programme in 2010 aimed to better understand how to deliver high performing buildings and to embed building performance evaluation into professional practice. This would enable the industry and the clients to learn, to implement the findings and to improve their own performance. The final objective was to assemble a suite of ‘fit for purpose’ BPE tools. Research outcomes are of immediate use to the projects teams involved including their present and future supply chains. Over the next 6 to 9 months, learning outcomes will be collated and made available for the wider industry.

Key Results & Challenges

  • Air tightness has been found to have changed quite dramatically in many case studies over the two year period; in some this has become worse whilst other buildings seem to tighten up.
  • Better informed clients are the cornerstone to improved performance. There is a key challenge around energy literacy, where methodologies represent different concepts but use the same graphical language to represent outcomes.
  • Client engagement is vital; many case studies are illustrating scenarios where aspects are paid for but not necessarily fully delivered. An engaged client is more likely to recognise this during construction, commissioning & handover and early occupation.
  • The skills of building occupants are at odds with the complexity of the systems in new buildings; where schools have previously employed caretakers, skilled facilities managers on high salaries are needed to look after new high-tech buildings.
  • Changes in client expectations can be observed throughout the programme. Anecdotal results suggest that clients are expecting more but it is the job of industry to help them to expect the right things.
  • The BPE programme forces project teams to collaborate, which has fostered good insights, building optimisation and lower running costs.
  • Munish Datta, Head of Plan A and Facilities Management for M&S considers the involvement in the BPE programme as fundamental to the realisation of operational targets and the success of the Cheshaire Oaks store.
  • Plan A is responsible for a net cost benefit to the M&S estate of £465 million, a third of which is from buildings.
  • Innovate UK are finding that after performing in-depth, collaborative building performance evaluations, the team’s perception of the performance of the case studies remains inflated compared to the evidence. The challenge is to understand the psychology behind this.
  • Calculations performed by Esfandiar Burman for one of the BPE education case studies concluded that approximately one third of the total gap could be traced back to specific procurement issues stemming from building design, construction and commissioning.
  • The BPE programme and the research carried out by Esfandiar Burman have illustrated that there are many opportunities for eradicating energy wastage without impacting on occupant comfort, indoor air quality, well-being and productivity – such as shortening operation schedules in line with the actual hours of occupancy.
  • The Green Construction Board knowledge and skills group concluded that there was a significant lack of knowledge around the performance gap across all sectors; understanding and competence must rise across all disciplines to deliver better buildings.

To access the full report, click here: