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Lisa Ann Pasquale - Six Cylinder Ltd

Building performance brief for London based charirty trust

At the preliminary stages of planning a new pavilion building, a small charitable Trust commissioned a high-level strategic technical brief to be informed ahead of discussions with architects and engineers. The Trust were specifically interested in projected operational utility costs as a part of their business case. Six Cylinder Ltd was awarded the contract for the brief and commenced the project with RIBA Stage 1 guidelines for an initial project brief, which included feasibility study energy calculations and targets, recommendations for good planning in the design process and recommendations for design strategies and technologies.
Early stage energy estimates provided via three energy use scenarios to indicate potential targets for energy performance, based on CIBSE TM-54 benchmarks for the size and space use. These included, firstly, as ‘aspiration target’, a Passive House standard for heat energy consumption, combined with a ‘best practice’ target for electrical consumption, followed by a ‘Good Practice target’ – achievable by pursuing an environmental target such as AECB silver standard for the building fabric and key ‘best practice’ guidance from CIBSE and other professional bodies. The final target was a ‘Typical Practice target’, achievable assuming compliance with statutory minimums (Part L) and reasonable management of the building.
The recommendations for the design process incorporated how the team should agree design targets and in-use performance metrics as early as possible in the design process, as well as guidance on using thermal modelling software. Performance quality checks (ie, thermal imaging, air pressure testing) should be integrated into tender documents to ensure fabric and construction quality. Tender documents should define key requirements making contractors accountable for performance at the commissioning and handover stage.
In relation to energy performance, guidance included how to maintain an ‘actual-energy-performance-model’ in accordance with CIBSE TM-54 throughout the design process as well as initiating an energy management plan to be maintained alongside design development to ensure control strategies which are aligned with building management strategies. Simulations for extreme overheating scenarios (ie. spin classes) were recommended to run as these scenarios may affect glazing and ventilation strategies and therefore façade design and planning applications.
Technologies and design strategies recommended were best practice and economically feasible. Whilst the lowest energy target will help the Trust in managing their long term operating budget, the strategies needed to achieve this may not be viable in terms of their capital expense and return on investment potential. To this end, general design recommendations included a focus on holistic building envelope design, including specific passive measures. (Technical risk note: strategies must be robust enough to handle highly variable occupancy pattern. Additionally, it was recommended to follow a standard (ie. AECB CarbonLite Silver) to ensure high quality building fabric as well as explore Energy Performance Contract options to install PV or solar thermal panels. Choosing a building environmental and energy management control system that is as simple and user friendly as possible is essential and where possible, have separately sub-meter tenanted spaces to recover utility costs.
To be realistic about the level of system complexity that is sustainable for the user, Six Cylinder did not, for example, recommend an underfloor heating system, for both technical reasons (the high fluctuations in space use means the heating system needs to be able to respond quickly) and, more importantly, usability of the system by the tenants.
For more information on building performance services, please visit http://six-cylinder.co.uk/services/

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