Undertaking Building Performance Evaluation has many practical applications for improving operational performance, increasing levels of customer satisfaction, and feedback into the design process for future developments.
We are increasingly finding that metered heat consumption within community heating schemes varies widely from what is expected. Monitoring this data alongside surveys of building occupants has demonstrated that improvements could be made in the design, installation and commissioning of the network and also information for occupiers in how to most efficiently use their heating systems.
Many of the thermographic surveys we undertake demonstrate weaknesses in the construction of external fabric. Inconsistencies in insulation are not always picked up through the air tightness test because the insulation is behind the air tightness barrier. However, these gaps in insulation can be seen in the thermal image which highlights areas of heat transfer. It is much easier to rectify these problems prior to occupation and also results in fewer customer complaints.
Occupant satisfaction surveys formalise customer feedback and allow us to pin-point specific areas for further investigation and improvement. We are able to investigate poor thermal comfort and overheating reported by customers through a combination of actual temperature monitoring and building simulation modelling to propose appropriate mitigation strategies. Ensuring occupants are properly informed on the use of ventilation systems and controls is another key aspect of this work.
The issues discussed above are covered within the BSRIA Soft Landings Framework, which is a methodology for closing the loop between design, construction, operation, and feedback into design. Focussed on operational outcomes and end user experiences, Soft Landings pushes for continual improvement by insisting that lessons learned from one completed project are considered within the design of the next.
Understanding what has worked well on a project and what could be improved can help shape the design of future projects and ensure that any mistakes are not repeated. Where developments are found to perform well or even better than expected, the performance data can be put together into a case study to demonstrate build quality.