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Beat the Energy Performance Gap

Beat the Energy Performance Gap with BEPIT

Results indicate that a revolutionary new service – The Building Energy Performance Improvement Toolkit (BEPIT) can help Housebuilders save money in time and rework.

Building Energy Performance Toolkit – BEPIT

The ‘Building Energy Performance Improvement Toolkit’ – BEPIT  – offers a solution to the notorious gulf between design and delivery that has haunted the industry for decades.

Feedback from early BEPIT adopters indicates that the new ‘gap-buster’ is not only highly effective – a 40% improvement on airtightness levels  – but also offers builders who use it valuable added benefits on quality and risk management.

At this week’s Ecobuild Show,  building performance engineer and BEPIT manager Douglas Drewniak reports on the toolkit’s first successes, six months from its launch last summer.

Heading a consortium of industry and academic partners, the not-for-profit sustainability expert Bioregional developed BEPIT through on-site research led by Drewniak and funded by Innovate UK – the government’s innovation agency.

The key finding from the four-year £1.3 million research programme is that the gap is caused by clusters of minor snags and errors scattered through the whole construction process. These add up to create a substantial drift between design promise and as-built performance.

The findings were used to develop BEPIT, a change of approach used to make newbuilds that work as well in the real world as they do on paper.  It involves monitoring a set of critical processes and working in detail with every key actor in a house-building project to identify and nail problems proactively during design, procurement and construction.

So while the new toolkit is expected to transform the quality and comfort of new homes for their occupiers, the first to reap its benefits will be builders.

With rising energy prices, an urgent need to cut carbon emissions, and the UK starting the biggest and most scrutinised housebuilding programme for a generation, failure to fulfil design promises gives the industry a bad name,  puts investors and customers off, and lands individual builders with whopping bills for remedial work when construction doesn’t deliver to plan.

Failure to meet quality or design criteria is also costing the industry big money – money in compensation pay-outs, money in share losses and money in missed sales due to reputational damage.

BEPIT manager Douglas Drewniak said:

Last year there were negative headlines about a few housebuilders constructing poor quality homes, and that was bad news for their bottom line as well as for their reputation. Quality and risk management have become massive issues and developers and contractors are realising that doing nothing has a punishing cost. It’s a cliché, but money does talk, 

The re-think of design and construction processes that makes up BEPIT has been exhaustively site trialled with contractors, in realtime, on a major house build in Oxfordshire.

In what was probably the most detailed performance gap research ever, Drewniak and his colleagues liaised with the architect, contractor and sub-contractors and spent thousands of hours monitoring the build from scratch to completion to see what caused energy performance to fall short of the design promises.

We did most of our research, development and testing on the first phase of the development. We then developed a prototype of the toolkit which we employed on Phase 2 of the same scheme but with a different contractor – our testbed, said Drewniak.

The energy gap has been one of the bugbears of the construction industry in the last decade. With heating energy consumption often double what had been calculated, costs for occupiers have often quite literally gone through the roof.  But with no industry or government pressure to take action, there has been little incentive to invest in a service that addresses it.

Now we understand the energy gap, there’s no justification to keep building it in to new houses. Today’s new builds can now deliver very close to what they promise. BEPIT is here to help builders do that and we’re getting a good amount of interest, with quite a few signing up for the service, said Drewniak.

Everyone Wins with Building Energy Performance Toolkit

Where builders do take advantage of BEPIT, everyone wins. The builders save money on not having to do expensive remedial work at the end of the build, they enhance their reputation for client satisfaction, for being competent, for delivering quality, and for championing sustainability. And owners and occupiers can look forward to lower heating bills, improved ventilation and air quality, a reduction in draughts and moulds, and an eco-friendly cut in carbon emissions.

BEPIT helps you understand the links between building performance, sustainability, quality and productivity. You manage key processes proactively and pre-emptively all through the project, with testing, inspection and workshops. And it helps build your vital evidence base – you can actually see how improved performance and quality can save money, said Drewniak.

 “BEPIT kicks off a new era of collaboration within our industry. It’s a set of down-to-earth, targets to get building performance where it needs to be. Through collaborative contracting, reciprocal links between the key people involved, and control through the process to achieve predictable outcomes, we can build houses that actually deliver as promised. That do what they say on the tin, said Drewniak.

Bioregional plans to embed BEPIT nationally as the go-to tool for the housebuilding industry. Using a team of facilitators, it aims to train up sustainability ‘integrators’ to improve energy performance on a large scale. Ultimately, BEPIT could be applied beyond residential and timber-framed schemes into commercial highrise and traditional block-and-brick.

To find out how the BEPIT service can save money and energy on your housing project, contact the BEPIT Manager Douglas Drewniak at  douglas.drewniak@bioregional.com. You

For more details on the Building Energy Performance Toolkit visit the BEPIT website

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