Building Performance Research: Blog


 Exciting times and legally challenging 16/6/11

It’s been a hectic year of building performance monitoring and evaluation programmes at Leeds Met CeBE with some of the same stories coming out: 

•             Some significant differences in expected and actual performance.

•             Problems with air tightness, cold bridging, thermal by-pass and thermal wash.

•             A lack of understanding of old materials and modern methods of construction.

•             Trainers, practitioners and professionals with gaps in their understanding of energy and  thermal performance.

•             Details that don’t work and ad hoc site practices that produce a failed building system..

However, we are also seeing a few success stories, contractors, designers, landlords and developer who are learning from the research and making significant improvements.  The challenge of zero carbon construction is still far from reality, especially with an industry that is far from being steeped in research.  I’m excited by the research that we’re doing; there is significant learning on every project.  Equally, I’m a little disturbed by those that preach good practice and have no substance on which to base it on.

The most significant step forward that the construction industry has made, in the move towards reducing energy consumption, in the last 20 years, is the recognition of the party wall acts as a bypass if into sealed and insulated, identified by Bell, Wingfield and Miles- Shenton at Leeds Metropolitan University.  The work of CeBE at Leeds has showen that over 10% of the heat lost was through partywall, in many cases this was considerably higher.  With 200,000 houses being built every year, the introduction of measures to remove the bypass, equates to the biggest step the country has made in recognising a problem and removing it.  However, we are still a long way off the zero carbon targets of 2016 and 2019.  There are many small and large steps the industry needs to make.

With dissemination events over the next few years through the CeBE, CKE, CSN and other groups we hope to share our findings and learn from other research programmes. 

Exciting times, and legally challenging for those professionals that done understand.

 Professor Chris Gorse

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