Our Sustainability Lead Simon Beaumont-Orr discusses how we are monitoring the in-use performance of a new secondary school over a three-year Soft Landings process to assess if the building is performing as designed.
As an industry, we’re getting to grips with the targets we should be pursuing when it comes to building performance, going far beyond regulatory compliance to focus on actual predicted energy-in-use targets, and notably those that can be directly compared back to a meter reading and therefore giving us a true understanding of if a building is performing as designed.
This month marked the end of the first year of Soft Landings meetings at Kingsbrook School. We started working on this new build secondary school project in 2020. Right from the start, the targets within the original brief of ‘EPC A’ were realigned to the more meaningful LETI School’s Heating and Energy Use Intensity targets. With a focus on the Soft Landings process beyond completion, attention also shifted to considering how we would understand if the building meets these targets in use. A strategy of sub-metering across the School was developed to a suitable granularity to understand and diagnose any areas under more strain than expected. As well as energy, this included sensors throughout to review those equally important well-being factors of CO2 and temperature.
This early consideration of how we need to understand a building’s performance in-use is now paying off. Over the past year, the delivery team has met quarterly on-site, reviewing data to diagnose any issues and address them. This has resulted in the building’s Energy Use Intensity coming in below the set LETI energy targets and the Department for Education’s latest targets for year one.
But we know there is still work to do to align the in-use performance to the design levels further. Our involvement continues formally for a further two years of Soft Landing aftercare, which will monitor performance against increasing occupancy in the School. Implementing these processes to ensure ‘performance as designed’ for the benefit of the planet and our energy bills is essential.
The question that has to be asked for buildings not following these processes is, how big will the performance gap be?