W7UP5 – Understanding the causes of performance issues in buildings; a student accommodation post-occupancy evaluation case study
7th March 2016 Anthony Marsh

Understanding the causes of performance issues in buildings; a student accommodation post-occupancy evaluation case study

Anthony Marsh, UCL Energy Institute


The in-use performance of a student accommodation development was evaluated. This was done by analysing energy usage, reviewing design documents, holding discussions with key personnel, and making fieldwork observations during site visits.

The accommodation was found to be using less electricity and gas than predicted for design stage compliance, whilst the operational carbon emissions were shown to be higher. It was also found to be performing relatively well against current energy benchmarks for university residential buildings.

However, it was shown to have particular problems integrating new technologies. The combined heat and power unit, the building management system and the energy display monitors were not operating as intended. The findings suggest that contractors should focus on commissioning and training processes to ensure that systems are working effectively (and are well understood by future operators) at handover. They should also engage in a period of after care during initial occupation to help rectify issues promptly. The technical due diligence procedures for selecting and sizing low and zero carbon technologies should also receive greater focus.

Additionally, it would be beneficial for contractors to retain the bespoke models used to estimate energy loads to allow for comparison against in-use performance. This should help to refine the accuracy and realism of building energy modelling in the future. The findings also suggested that facilities management staff must become better equipped to manage the growing IT aspect of their roles.

Anthony Marsh

Paul Ruyssevelt