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An article appeared in the Telegraph last week, Energy Scandal: Misleading Efficiency Claims Leading to Huge Bills for Homeowners. At IES, while we’re 100% in support of the industry needing to do much more to tackle the energy performance gap, we feel that this article unfairly lays the blame for it at the doors of energy modelling professionals.
Headquartered in Glasgow, IES is the main provider of performance simulation software in the UK. We’ve been helping address the numerous causes of the performance gap for several year’s now, through training and education sessions.
Yes, the ‘performance gap’ is well documented and known about in the industry. But to address it requires action by all those involved in a building’s life cycle, from design to operation. That includes architects, engineers, energy modellers, contractors and facilities managers to name a few. The finger should not just be pointed only at building modelling professionals!
There are a number of issues in play here.
First off, a key misconception to understand, is that an EPC, as modelled by software during the design stage, is NOT a true reflection of how a building will perform once built. EPCs assess a building under normalised conditions, missing out ‘unregulated building energy loads’ that are not required to be included in the calculation. As an industry, we need to get away from modelling just for compliance and modelling for actual building energy use. Read more on our views on this here.
Next up there are already several well-established industry initiatives aimed at tackling the issue. CIBSE Guidance TM54 is focused on ‘Evaluating Operational Energy Performance of Buildings at the Design Stage’, and the BSRIA Soft Landings Process aims to help to solve the performance gap between design intentions and operational outcomes by better management of the handover process from design, through commissioning, and on into operation to deliver a better performing product.
Combine this with, the digital revolution of the construction industry that is Building Information Modelling (BIM), and the industry has a vehicle to capture relevant information during design for use during the operational phase of the building as well as accountability for operational performance.
So what’s the problem? Ultimately, building clients want low fees. To move away from a compliance only modelling approach that uses standard assumptions and leaves predictions of energy use way out, needs the support of clients. When done properly a building model can predict within +/- 5% of energy performance. But time and effort needs to be taken during the modelling process to predict realistic use. And time costs money!
In reality, this research just highlights why modellers use software tools to understand building energy use. The way a building responds in practice is complex with many factors interacting and needing to be accounted for. Modellers use tools like the IESVE to run scenarios and check their assumptions are correct. They often change their views based on feedback from models. The energy modellers that took part in the research were not asked to use any modelling software to inform their responses.
This is why tools like IESVE exist, to aid professionals in making informed decisions. All IESVE modellers can access detailed training and accreditation from us, and we would wholeheartedly support more courses, and in-depth, industry wide accreditation.
January is traditionally the time for forward reflection. So inspired by what’s going on around us we’ve pulled together the top 5 buzzwords that we think our expert building analytics team at IES will be using across 2016.
The Force of COP21
May the Force of COP21 be with us all. While the agreement signed in Paris by all 196 nations of the world to pull together and attempt to reduce carbon emissions, thus limiting the onslaught of global warming and reducing air pollution worldwide, is a major step forward, the real work starts now.
Undoubtedly the biggest difference will be made by big business and governments, see our founder Don’s views on this. However, we also believe that each and every one of us must also do our bit by changing the way we live, work, travel and think; no matter where we are from or how rich we are.
The Glasgow Effect:
Ok so we might not use this across the whole year but it certainly got us talking in January and as it’s a year-long project there is sure to be more to come. For those of you who’ve not picked up on this yet, the topic of office banter all across Glasgow on Tuesday morning was Ellie Harrison and her Glasgow Effect project being awarded £15k by Creative Scotland. The artist will not leave the greater Glasgow Area for 1 year (except in the event of the ill-heath / death of close relative or friend), and it’s caused a real storm on social media.
The project was initially called Think Global Act Local and is not primarily about poverty or deprivation in the city, as many people have assumed, but about exploring the benefits and practicalities of localism for artists and communities. “By setting this one simple restriction to her current lifestyle, she intends to test the limits of a ‘sustainable practice’ and to challenge the demand-to-travel placed upon the ‘successful’ artist / academic. The experiment will enable her to cut her carbon footprint and increase her sense of belonging, by encouraging her to seek out and create ‘local opportunities’ – testing what becomes possible when she invests all her ideas, time and energy within the city where she lives.”
The artist has a strong interest in climate change, political activism and big data, and while the original project title is in some ways far more accurate, most people wouldn’t have looked twice at a project named ‘Think Global Act Local’. But it got us thinking about the role of local and community in our personal and professional lives. It’s a global problem, but there’s action that can be taken by us all at a local level to combat it. Read more at our Blog.
With the UK Government mandate for BIM Level 2 deadline fast approaching this year, and as a technology company in the sustainable building analysis arena we felt it was essential to educate and engage the industry on the important role performance analysis has to play in the BIM process. The concept of creating and capturing information during design for use in operation is key to achieving Low Zero Carbon buildings. This time last year we started an educational campaign named ‘BIM4Analysis’ to engage with the industry and bring performance metrics front and centre to the BIM movement which is what the Government strategy is aimed at.
2016 is going to see us develop on this, demonstrating our BIM enabled analysis workflow alongside customers through various events and publications, including Ecobuild and BIM Prospects 2016. We’ve also got the next instalment of our popular IES Faculty BIM webinar series taking place at the end of January (details coming soon). This event will provide an update on our BIM4Analysis strategy plus interoperability development work that will help you on your BIM journey.
Other industries are already capturing and using big data to their advantage – but buildings are lagging behind. Imagine what you could do with real metrics instead of big assumptions. It’s all linked to Smart Buildings, the Internet of Things and other digital developments. Data in buildings can be generated by a wide variety of sources and can be used to understand behaviour, assess performance, improve market competitiveness, allocate resources and so on. However, historically it has been difficult and expensive to collect this data, and its variety in quality, structure and format made it difficult to use, sometimes for example requiring the manual transfer of data from paper records into digital systems.
Mind The Performance Gap:
We’ve been banging on about this for ages now but it’s an issue which requires much more understanding and attention. We’re expecting the issue to gain momentum in 2016, especially as the UKGBC has announced a new research project in the area.
The Performance Gap is a well-documented disconnect between the design and compliance models of buildings and the reality of how they perform. Our work to date has focused on the importance of understanding the difference between design, compliance and actual building performance models, as covered in this video from our faculty event. As well as researching new technological advances in using operational data combined with 3D modelling across building design, handover and operation to deliver intelligent energy efficiencies, alongside healthy and comfortable buildings.
Is integrating energy management with 3D modelling and BIM (Building Information Modelling) the route to better communication between a building’s design team and its operation team?
Technological advances which enable operational data to be combined with 3D modelling have been around for years. However, uptake of this calibrated simulation route has been hindered by access to data, lack of detailed HVAC modelling and lack of synergy and communication between the different teams involved in the process.
Implementing a calibrated simulation process at all stages of the building lifecycle from design, through commissioning and handover can deliver intelligent energy efficiencies, alongside healthy and comfortable buildings. On a recent project IES achieved the UK’s first LEED Gold Pharmaceutical Warehouse and delivered a customised operational energy dashboard using this principle.
While with Lateral Technologies, IES helped design the most sustainable John Lewis store to date, John Lewis York.
Designing, handing over and operating the first BREEAM Outstanding department store
Lateral Technologies worked with IES Consulting as a technology partner to design a store which could achieve a 30% reduction in the benchmark carbon figure. In July 2014 their creation became the first department store in the world to be awarded BREEAM Outstanding. Currently the project is achieving a 43% reduction on the benchmark figure based on other similar John Lewis stores.
Operational data from similar benchmark buildings was used to strengthen the new build design and inform the innovative low carbon M&E design. IES as the technology partner helped Lateral achieve incredibly detailed HVAC modelling. Then IES technology was used to import the actual building data back into the model, so the occupied building could be continuously analysed to quickly identify any performance gaps and deliver a soft landing.
Throughout the project, Lateral Technologies kept the energy initiative at the centre of design and construction decisions. The design included advanced modelling, use of LED lighting, photovoltaic solar panels, free cooling, efficient thermal design of the roof and walls to reduce heat loss and gain and the building being 70% more air tight than required.
At the same time, both John Lewis and Lateral Technologies were keen to monitor the performance of the shop after it opened. “All too often a good design fails to deliver the energy savings anticipated because of changes made during the construction phase or because occupiers don’t know how to best control the building,” explains Paul Paterson, sustainability design manager at Lateral Technologies. “Instead of waiting months for a higher than expected energy bill to flag up a problem, as is all too common practice, we wanted to find a way of continually analysing the building to identify any problem areas from day one.”
The project benefitted John Lewis by reducing carbon emissions including operational energy use and allowed the measuring and monitoring of real time energy use. This monitoring will provide future benefit to the store through understanding how energy use can be reduced and will also allow the opportunity for use in future design and construction projects, to provide the most sustainable stores.
Paul Paterson, explains why they turned to IES, the world leaders in energy modelling. “The way IES is pushing the boundaries of modelling, from using higher levels of detail to optimise design at all levels, to automatically sending operational data back into the model, to deliver impressive levels of post occupancy evaluation, made them the perfect fit for us.”
He adds, “Far from considering our job done, we’re now using IES-SCAN, a new powerful IES tool, to import the actual building data back into the model, so we can continuously analyse the occupied building to quickly identify any performance gaps to deliver a soft landing. The level of detail provided by the model is incredible, enabling us to analyse how everything from the HVAC to the escalators to the catering equipment is performing.”
He concludes, “The best thing about IES-SCAN is that instead of having to wait for a utility bill or spend days manually extracting data from the BMS, it lets us easily see which sustainability features are proving the most effective, helping us to decide which future improvements will have the biggest impact on other stores.”
Using performance simulation technology in this manner can drive efficiencies and close the performance gap between design intention and how a building actually operates in the real world. The performance gap, is a well-documented disconnect between the design and compliance models of buildings and the reality of how they perform.
IES has been working to enable the power of its leading building performance analysis software, the VE, to be used on buildings from design, through commissioning on into operation, in order to address this issue.
Our recent innovations enable us to link together operational building data (e.g. Smart/AMR Meters, Sub Meters, BMS Equipment, Environment Sensors, other building systems such as lighting, and other available external data sources such as weather) with 3D performance models. This means that real data rather than design data can be used directly in calibrated simulation models enabling more accurate predictions.
Post Occupancy Evaluation: Integrating renewables
Working for NHS Ayrshire and Arran, IES undertook an independent audit of the building performance of the new Girvan Community Hospital, which opened in 2011. The building set a new standard for hospital design for the NHS in Scotland and was the product of a three-year intensive consultation and design process which involved hospital staff and community members. Sustainability and energy considerations informed the design process from the start leading to the provision of a biomass boiler and wind turbine.
IES has integrated its technology with the BMS, wind turbine, AMR and sub-meter infrastructure to look at the buildings energy demand in conjunction with energy generation and is now investigating opportunities to decrease energy demand and deliver an on-going feed of data to a cloud based portal.
Using operational data to deliver continuous system tuning and commissioning
A proof of concept study for Glasgow City Council explored how advanced analytics can be used to refine building management, energy investment strategy and define ROI targets. IES Consulting worked with the council across six sites: Riverside Primary School, Riverside Museum, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, City Chambers, Exchange House and Collegelands. A robust framework for data collection was created, reduction potential assessed and assuming a 3-5 year ROI it was proven that reductions in the region of £255k-£425k were possible and would deliver a reasonable capital budget if re-invested into improvement options. Read the full case study here.
The full potential of these technological advances has yet to be fully realised. However, with projects focused on the easy energy and carbon saving opportunities of energy efficient lighting and voltage power optimisation finalising, companies with more mature energy management programs are looking for the next wave of energy savings.
Extensive use of energy management software to monitor energy usage and gain visibility of use and associated cost, must surely lead on into optimising HVAC systems. Utilising the capabilities calibrated simulation delivers will enable more than just superficial analytics of usage patterns. It will in fact allow this information to be assessed against truly personalised virtual assessments of how the actual building to should be performing. This will ultimately peel back another layer of confusion thereby highlighting the hidden inefficiencies.
Find out more about how IES can help you make the most out of your building data here.
The world of energy efficient building design is littered with acronyms and jargon – CAD, BIM, SBEM, DSM, energy modelling and BREEAM to name but a few. Now as we strive to bridge the ‘performance gap’ operational BIM, BIM 4 FM and calibrated simulation are being joined by BMS, AMR and BEMS. But just what are the benefits of combining the technology and processes behind these jargon laden phrases to the average building owner?
We’re currently at a technology cusp. CAD (computer Aided Design) techniques being used at the design phase are the default choice, and being joined by both BIM (Building Information Modelling) and building analyses technologies.
The issue is that these buildings do not always operate in real-life the same way as their design intended. This is sometimes called the performance gap. Misunderstandings around the difference between the energy model done to prove compliance with building regulations and an energy model of the actual building don’t help, as don’t last minute specification changes, lack of detailed commissioning, and disjointed handover to the building owner.
Its fast being recognised that ensuring design intent is handed over correctly as the building is completed and starts operating is a necessity to bridge this difference between predicted operation and actual operation – the process of well managed building handover is known as ‘soft landings’.
3D models of buildings created purely for geometry, or for performance modelling, or as part of a BIM process are being recognised as a way to gather, store and pass-on important data related to a buildings’ operation. Using an Operational BIM or BIM for FM approach offers many benefits by aligning construction and design to the operational use of the asset.
However, taking this one step further, an innovation known as ‘calibrated modelling’ links together all operational data streams from a building (including Smart/AMR Meters, Sub Meters, BMS Equipment, Environment Sensors, other building systems such as lighting), with other available external data sources (such as weather), with 3D analysis models. This means that real data rather than design data can be used directly in calibrated energy models (or simulation models) enabling more accurate predictions.
One of the key strengths of this approach is its value of being used after initial operational energy efficiency improvements have been made and its capability to find more improvements. It can either be applied to a building for a fixed period or can be used on an ongoing basis to support a programme of continuous improvement depending on the individual application. It can also be used as part of a retrofit process (light or deep) in order to assess different options and make sounds business case-led decisions.
Key points of calibrated modelling are:
So where could the future take us? It is not hard to envision how a 3D simulated environment could be exploited to intelligently control buildings. Model Based Control, Fault Detection Identification Analysis, Optimisation of the Building operation while in use and Predictive Control based on future weather and operational data, are all areas currently being researched across Europe.
As part of World Green Building Week IES is running an education session, followed by drinks on this subject. Taking place on Thursday 24th September 4-7pm in central London the session is aimed at both building owners and those responsible for their operation as well as consultants working in this area. Using case study examples it will look at how new technology in this area can enable operational data and performance simulation technology to be used together to drive efficiencies and close the performance gap at all stages of the building lifecycle from design, through commissioning and handover on into the first year of operation and beyond.