Research into Energy-Led Refurbishment of Non-Domestic Buildings

Megan Strachan
The UK’s non-domestic building sector accounts for almost 20% of the UK’s total carbon emissions. This diverse sector holds great potential for carbon reductions through design, construction, operation and refurbishment.

It may be easier to implement change within new build property, but over half of our current building stock will still be standing in 2050. The UK therefore has a significant challenge in meeting its legally binding carbon reduction targets.

My research looks at how we can make informed decisions when improving the operational energy performance of existing, non-domestic buildings.

I am a graduate building surveyor and am working towards my PhD at Heriot-Watt University’s Urban Energy Research Group. My research looks at how we can make informed decisions when improving the operational energy performance of existing, non-domestic buildings. In particular, I’m looking at traditionally constructed office buildings that are considered hard to treat.

Most current research into the operational energy performance of existing, non-domestic buildings focuses on the drivers for energy performance improvements. Studies have found that regulatory compliance is not the primary driver for large building portfolios holders to cut their operational energy consumption levels. Non-regulatory drivers are also important.

My research considers how to evaluate the most suitable energy performance improvement package. This means one that comprehensively addresses building performance issues and is compatible as a set of measures when applied to a building. It’s a complex decision-making process that involves analysis of conflicting, multiple assessment criteria.

I carried out an extensive review and comparison of existing decision support tools for the refurbishment of existing buildings. I then developed a proposal for an optimum decision support tool (DST). This seven step process of energy-led refurbishment has been peer-reviewed and is shown below. It’s targeted at those working in property management in large businesses, responsible for their building portfolio’s energy performance.

One of the main objectives of this research is development of the step 2 module energy demand interventions assessment. I developed a set of assessment criteria for the suitability of an energy performance improvement measure and these are currently being weighted in terms of their relative importance. Within the context of the DST, they will help the user make decisions that are informed by the true impact of an intervention on an existing building.

Faithful+Gould supports collaborative relationships with academia and is keen to participate in innovative research. Utilised effectively, this participation can help businesses to align their services with the needs of the most forward looking clients.