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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.
Do you know what BIG DATA is? You must have heard of it? The exponential growth in the volume, velocity and variety of data generated each second and the corresponding increase in processing power, algorithms and databases which have developed side by side. These databases are used to collate, store, analyse and leverage insights from the multitude of data lakes, warehouses and ecosystems which we are discovering every day. Many industries such as financial services, aerospace, health, biotech and manufacturing have benefitted from applying big data tools and techniques but it has been slow to permeate building services, design and operation.
Buildings generate more data than you might think? We started with simple monthly energy and gas bills. Now we can get sub-metered data on a half hourly basis for electricity, gas, heat and water. Not to mention the thousands of BMS points you find in a typical building, each generating and storing data every minute. Layer on top of this, occupancy and climate data, indoor air quality data, data from connected devices and you get a rich, granular, high velocity, voluminous and varied data set being dumped in your Amazon database each night. The question is what do we do with it?
Using operational data to inform the design and optimisation of our buildings hasn’t been the traditional approach used by designers and engineers. We now have the tools to be able to link accurate building performance models to real data. Leveraging these enhanced operational models is a superior way of not just designing with the end performance in mind, but also to better manage existing assets. By integrating this capability into our Virtual Environment (VE) software, IES are enabling and empowering users to put to good use the new wave of big data being generated by our buildings and cities and combine this with our core building physics and building services applications.
IES are running a free faculty event. ‘Intelligent Big Data in Building Services’ will be held in London on the morning of 27th April. You can register for the event here.
My colleague Dan Tuohy and I will be sharing our thoughts on using big data in the built environment and how, at different stages of the building lifecycle, that data can be put to best use.
I’m also excited to announce a special guest speaker. Thomas Bouriot, from TFT Concultants will be sharing his insight from the client’s perspective and how buiding owners/users’ needs can be met by leveraging and combining real data with building performance modelling tools.
Nowadays there is masses of data available at every stage of the building lifecycle. And nowhere more so than at operation. The increasing volume, variety & velocity of data available presents its own organisational and analysis challenges. As does getting hold of and storing that data in the first place. However, what’s clear is that in order to derive value from operational data building owners, controls companies, BMS operators and specialist consultants need to come together and work in collaboration.
New trends in technology are making it increasingly cost effective to instrument and collect data about the operations and energy usage of buildings. So much so that we are now awash in data and the new problem is how to make sense of it. Today most operational data has poor semantic modelling and requires a manual, labour intensive process to “map” the data before value creation can begin. Pragmatic use of naming conventions and taxonomies can make it more cost effective to analyse, visualize, and derive value from our operational data. Data collected from operational sites can also be used to feedback into new design and ‘seed’ the design process from a grass roots level, leading to better designs, and better buildings!
Now I’ve spoken about our work for John Lewis in York on 2degrees before. However, last month, along with Lateral Technologies and Next Controls, we scooped the CIBSE Building Performance Award for Collaborative Working Partnership, for this very project.
Using IES SCAN technology, Lateral Technologies worked with IES Consultants to collect data directly from BMS systems and calibrate it with the design model to show any gaps in terms of predicted and actual performance and help deliver a soft landing. The controls company, Next Control Systems, were responsible for extracting the data from the BMS system to share with IES and Lateral Technologies.
Together this team helped John Lewis to create its most sustainable store to date and achieve a reduction of 43.8% in absolute carbon emissions compared to the benchmark, equating to 13.8% further savings than the original expectations of 30%.
For me this is an excellent example of how collaboration can help facilitate Data Driven Design. Data Driven Design is a term we’re using to describe this cost effective approach to analyse, visualise, and derive value from operational data. By incorporating this approach into an integrated (BIM) design process it is possible to understand better the difference between performance models created solely for Part L compliance and how a building actually operates in real life.
A report by the Green Construction Board from 2013 explains the cause of the gap between predicted and actual energy use as down to the following headline issues:
So in conclusion, the power of outstanding collaboration comes from not only collaboration between design/operation team partners to effectively use data, but also integration across the different stages of a buildings lifecycle.
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.
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.
Over the years the green agenda within building design has become increasingly important. It’s only until very recently that designers, and other construction colleagues, have had the technology and know how to validate how our buildings are performing in real terms in comparison to what was expected from the design stage. The results prove interesting with a common thread, often the building isn’t performing as predicted. Invariably the divergence in results show the real building performing far worse than expected. We can see this in simple terms, by comparing a buildings Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) against its energy bills and Display Energy Certificate (DEC). Why is this?
IES’ recent Faculty held on the 24th September at the Institute of Medical Sciences discussed where the Performance Gap comes from and how the industry can minimise it through better understanding of design analysis and learning from buildings in operation. This Faculty is one of many from the Faculty series, which is a free event for IES Virtual Environment (IESVE) users to discuss and debate current topics among like-minded people. IES’ new Cloud Services brings together Design and Operation through its new FFD technology.
Simulation modelling for building performance actually comprises of a number of different models, these model types are:
1. Compliance Model = Actual Building
2. Reference Model = Notional Building
3. Design Model = Best estimate of the REAL building
4. Operational Model = refined Design Model with REAL Building in operation data, usually a heavily manual process
The VE allows you to analyse each of these models within a single software suite for your project, however this can lead to confusion. The Carbon Trust published a report, ‘Closing the Gap’, in April 2012. One of the key findings is the confusion that Compliance models should somehow suffice for design analysis and in some cases mistakenly used as a form of operational energy prediction. The compliance model is simply a benchmark exercise and omits key elements within the building in its calculation. For example, unregulated loads such as plug loads, server rooms, external lighting and so on. This is ultimately why the EPC, currently, won’t align with the DEC, however your Design model could, and a growing number within our industry would say should. The Carbon Trust report further concludes that during the Design process we should distinguish between these model types and focus on the Design model rather than being driven by compliance. In addition the report concludes that we should also develop our understanding of soft landings and post occupancy building monitoring, and increase their application to benefit our Design decisions through lessons learnt.
There is an increase in clarity of these different model types, helped by the sophistication of BIM Analysis for building performance software suites such as the VE. In addition to the technology has been the need to introduce standard methodology to assist designers. CIBSE TM:54 outlines a methodology for developing the compliance model to evolve to a detailed Design model. This comprehensive technical memorandum, helps to reinforce how many of us already tackle projects and it’s a positive step forward to have an independent body produce a standard process for doing so. Everything you need to follow this methodology can be achieved within the VE.
We carried out a poll at the Faculty to understand the impact of TM:54 almost a year after publication. It’s interesting that approximately 5% attendees had actually used it, 10% had read it, and around 50% had heard about it. Why is this? TM:54 was published October 2013, maybe we need more time for the TM to distribute, or maybe its market demand. It seems to us that this should be standard practice on every project, but we are maybe a few years away at the moment. One response at the faculty pointed the finger to client demand. Saying that the client won’t pay for a more advanced model, and so they get a compliance model. Indeed one of the commercial editors of TM:54 later confided that their business has yet to deliver a project following the methodology and struggling to sell as a service. Maybe though we should have more confidence, and as the experts, help to educate our clients on the benefits.
Understanding our analysis at Design Stage is only one half of this challenge, the other is understanding how buildings are operating and learning from them. Historically we’ve periodically undertaken volume benchmarking of buildings, i.e. CIBSE Guide F (table 20.1 is one I personally remember well, from design days of past). This approach requires a huge amount of effort and quickly becomes dated. We have had recent attempts to create independent formats for example ‘Lessons’ and ‘CarbonBuzz’. While these appear to be robust platforms with good intentions, designers & building owners are reluctant to post predicted and operational building performance key indicators on a public forum. The feedback from the Faculty suggested the lack of a driver. Why would designers commit to their design performance so publicly?
Interestingly the BREEAM assessment Version 2014 includes the reward of credits for submitting building performance metrics. However there seemed to be a difference of opinion at the faculty on this, with some hesitant to share any information, whilst others happy to comply for credit attainment. There is a need to learn more from our buildings in operation. It’s all well and good believing a building is sustainable because it appears to do so at design, but how sustainable is it in reality? How do we know if we aren’t checking? It’s well-known that there are some new high profile sustainable buildings which perform far worse than expected, TM:54 gives the example of the National Trust HQ in Swindon. Soft Landings is keys to this, but we need to correlate building performance against the design. We need to quantify the Performance Gap in the same level of detail which we analyse buildings in simulation software. IES has been working hard to provide a robust technology platform to do this, and announced at the faculty its new Cloud service called ERGON, which allows operational data to be used within the VE, through Free Form Data profiles (FFD).
ERGON, certainly got the discussion going at the Faculty. Being able to use real building data at design stage is a leap forward. Imagine not having to rely on NCM profiles, but actually using real building data. ERGON is essentially the introduction of a new fifth model category, the Enhanced Operational Model. Where previously the Operational model would involve site visits and laborious data analysis, the Enhanced Operational Model automates much of this and allows a much more efficient and effective workflow. Take the example of designers who are sector specialists. If you have data of how the schools you have designed perform, you can directly use that to benefit the design modelling of your future school projects by using more accurate and relevant data. The Faculty presented a couple of ERGON case studies of real metered data against predicted (using compliance data), with one case study showing the metred lighting load at 200% of predicted.
No-one knows better than the designers who design the building, how that building should operate. We currently have very poor handovers from the design team, to the construction team, and as one Faculty attendee shouted out, don’t forget the handover to the FM team. Using the new FFD service designers now have the ability to extend their services beyond the traditional handover. Using the same technology they are used to for design, they can now feedback valuable information to the commissioning team and FM team. As pointed out in the Faculty, a service contact with building owners to provide annual health checks, could be another opportunity.
While the Faculty discussed some of the new features of the VE, there’s much more to come. It’s a very interesting and exciting time we live in with the advancement of smart building technology evolving at speed. Only a couple of years ago the only thing connected to your home broadband was your laptop. Now with the movement of the Internet of everything (IoE), all manner of devices are connected. It’s easy to question the value of having your fridge or washing machine connected to the internet, but the popularity of being able to control and analyse your home technology from your smart phone is hard to argue with. Just look at NEST’s smarts smoke alarm and their smart thermostat. Ok, it’s great to turn your heating on or off from the office and to check your house isn’t on fire but the real benefit comes from a sub benefit of the products being connected to the IoE. i.e. if the smoke alarm senses Carbon Monoxide it can tell the thermostat to turn the boiler off.
The evolution within the domestic sector is clear but what about the potential of the non-domestic sector? It’s an exciting time and with all the development being carried out in various Smart cities projects around the world, were only at the beginning. It’s hard not to be distracted by this; but our first step to this must be to close the Performance Gap.
Find out more about ERGON by signing up to our free training webinar on Monday 10th Nov (3pm GMT).
There has been a growing awareness for some time that many ‘low energy buildings’ use more energy than the designers thought they would. As energy costs have risen, this awareness has started to spread to building owners, who hear much about low energy buildings and subscribe to programmes that rate the design of the building, only to find that their ‘low energy design’ turns out to have a typical energy bill. The performance of low energy designs is often little better than that of an older building they have replaced, or supplemented.
There is a mismatch between the expectations around the performance of new buildings and the reality of the utility bills. This difference between expected and realised energy performance has come to be known as the ‘performance gap’. CIBSE TM:54
Join the IES Team in London on Wednesday 24th September (4pm – 6pm), for the return of the next instalment of our popular interactive Faculty series, where we explore the Performance Gap phenomenon in detail. We’ll discuss what we can do to improve the accuracy of our design modelling, with an insight into the newly released CIBSE TM:54. Following on we’ll discuss the advantages of Soft Landings and what recent advances in Building Simulation can allow you to use real building data to improve the Design Process of new buildings.
Can’t make the seminar in person? Don’t worry, we’ll be providing live updates throughout the event on our live twitter feed, using the #PerformanceGap hashtag. Not only can you follow our World Green Building Week event live but you can also play your part in the discussion taking place, by filling out this quick survey below and by putting your questions and issues to our team using the #PerformanceGap hashtag or the comments section of this blog post.
The Faculty seminars are a place for interaction among the industry and the more feedback that is provided, the better we can start to address the issues we are all facing. It’s time for us to close the #PerformanceGap.