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Bernadette Bowden

Scholarship Name: Building Standards
Host Company: Southend-on-Sea Borough Council
Educational Institution: MSc Sustainable Construction at Anglia Ruskin University
Research Topic: Building Control influence on the energy performance gap of buildings
Year of Completion: 2016

Biography

Bernadette Bowden has been working within Local Authority Building Control since 2003 and is currently Team Leader for the Building Control Team at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council. Bernadette completed a Masters Degree (Distinction) in Sustainable Construction in December 2015 and is the 2015/16 CIOB Building Standards Scholar.

The research investigated building control’s influence on the factors identified as contributing to the performance gap (buildings which consume more energy in operation than was predicted in design), through the use of questionnaires to building control professionals and interviews to a designer and an energy assessor.

Building control can influence the factors contributing to the performance gap through their involvement in plan checking and site inspections, particularly in relation to the design and construction (including commissioning) of new buildings. Increased awareness of the performance gap amongst building control professionals is recommended. It was found that a lack of information reduces the ability of the building control body to check for Part L compliance and further research is recommended into the suitability of the Building Notice application type for use with new build.

Abstract of Report

The performance gap (buildings which consume more energy in operation than was predicted in design), has been found in new buildings, across all sectors, in the UK and worldwide; studies have shown the operational energy use can be up to five times higher than estimates during design (Carbon Trust, 2011).

Of the factors identified in previous studies as contributing to the performance gap, factors relating to the design and construction (including commissioning) of new buildings can be influenced by building control professionals through their involvement in plan checking and site inspections, as they carry out their function.

Poor construction which leads to the avoidable waste of energy was attributed by building control as predominantly a result of poor quality control on site, lack of an appropriately skilled workforce and incorrect thermal detailing on site.

Increased awareness of the performance gap, particularly for less experienced building control professionals, will assist building control to address poor construction or issues surrounding commissioning being late or incomplete.

The risk-based approach to site inspections, building control staffing levels and the competitive environment in which building control bodies operate are barriers to building controls ability to carry out Part L compliance checking and results in reduced opportunity to influence the factors identified as contributing to the performance gap. Lack of information reduces the ability of the building control body to check for Part L compliance. The Building Notice application type has been identified as resulting in less information and its suitability for use with new build has been questioned. Further research into this area is recommended.

Testimonial

"It has been a rewarding experience, providing both career and personal development whilst researching a topic I am passionate about. The scholarship programme also enabled me to complete my MSc Sustainable Construction (Distinction)."