What Are Energy Assessments For Building?
There are several types of energy assessment and certification for buildings in the UK with the main aim to assessing and measuring the impact of buildings on the environment. Here’s a summary of the abbreviations that you may see:
BRE - Building Research Establishment. This is a group of companies (researchers, scientists, engineers and technicians) who provide guidance and advise on buildings and their impact on the environment.
SAP - Standard Assessment Procedure is the UK Government's recommended system for measuring the energy rating of domestic dwellings.
SBEM - Simplified Building Energy Model is an analysis of a non-domestic buildings energy consumption.
EPC - Energy Performance Certificate shows how efficiently a domestic building uses energy and the cost of running it. The EPC gives recommendations of how to improve the energy efficiency of the property.
DEC - Display Energy Certificate is a certificate showing the operational energy rating of a building which may be different to the intended design.
BREEAM - BRE Environmental Assessment Method is an environmental assessment method for measuring the environmental impact of buildings and communities.
Types of Energy Assessment
There are several types of Energy Assessment; they could be for domestic, non-domestic, public or private buildings and these come with different types of certification that demonstrate the results of the calculations. Some are required by law, and some are advisory.
There are also different rules for Energy Assessments in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, as well as local council requirements, so the local building control office needs to be consulted to ensure all the requirements are being met.
For private buildings that are for domestic use, be it flats, apartments or individual dwellings SAP calculations must be completed to meet the requirements of the Building Regulations. They are done in two stages, the first before construction which shows the intended energy usage and the second after building occupation that shows the actual energy usage. From the SAP calculations, an EPC is produced, and this is required before the building can be rented or sold.
SAP Calculations are also required when a building is being converted to a dwelling and when an extension to an existing building has glazing covering more than 25% of the new floor area.
For private buildings (including extensions and refurbishments) over 50m2 that are not for domestic use then an SBEM calculations must be completed to meet the requirements of the Building Regulations, although under certain circumstances this isn’t required. The SBEM is also completed in two stages, and a software tool called iSBEM is used for the calculations. The initial assessment is called the designed Building Emission Rate (BER) which is compared to the Target Emission Rate (TER).
Public buildings use the BREEAM Assessment process to assess their energy usage for either new builds, change of use or major refurbishments. In some cases, private clients may request that a BREEAM Assessment is completed. BREEAM measures the following factors:
Land use and Ecology
Health and wellbeing
The assessment grades buildings from Unclassified to Poor, Good, Very Good, Excellent up to Outstanding. It is estimated that less than 1% of the UKs new non-domestic buildings will reach the Outstanding grade. The UK Government’s Construction Strategy states that new buildings must aim to achieve the ‘Excellent’ standard.
SAP, SBEM and BREEAM assessments must be completed by registered people/ companies, and they have to use the recognised software (from BRE) to complete the work.
In summary, there are a variety of assessments and certificates that different types of buildings must be checked against or achieve. Some are required by national law, and others are dictated by local councils which can lead to some confusion. However, guidance is given by BRE and energy management consultancies to ensure property owners and developers meet their legal responsibilities.