Monthly Archives: September 2018

From Design to Operation – Mainer Associates Attend a BRE Academy Event Addressing the Performance Gap in Buildings.

In early September 2018 Mainer Associates attended the BRE Academy’s event on the performance gap in buildings. Operational building performance is a very important issue for developers and prospective tenants. The ability for built assets to perform to the intended design specifications and intended operational use is critical for two reasons.

Firstly, buildings need to be energy and operationally efficient to reduce costs and environmental impact. Secondly, the performance of a built asset helps create the environment tenants work in. It will enhance and maintain (or decrease!) tenant satisfaction/wellbeing in the workplace. As a result, tenants retain their staff, and developers retain their tenants, increasing their letting value and reputation.

The BRE’s event highlighted that built assets can experience a performance gap when compared to their design intent. Even when occupant satisfaction is at a good level, the actual operational efficiency of the building can still be significantly worse than intended. Research into the performance gap conducted by the BRE academy demonstrated a 200%-450% difference in operational performance from the buildings they sampled.

Why is this?

The presentations and attendees discussed this question and produced very interesting arguments:

  • Inadequate, generic, modelling at design stage
  • Insufficient handover of buildings to occupants and building managers
  • Lack of building maintenance and operational management
  • Inadequate monitoring of energy and water consumption
  • Designing for compliance, not use
  • Building in challenges during the construction process
  • Buildings are used/operated in ways that the asset was originally not designed for – particularly relevant to historical buildings.
  • Occupant Behaviors
  • Lack of collaboration between landlord and tenant
  • Little continuity of staff on development projects


These are all important points to consider when trying to address the performance gap. No two assets will be the same, and different influences on operational performance will change throughout a building’s life cycle.

Mitigation suggestions from the BRE event included improving energy modelling, ensuring that buildings are designed for actual use, and where possible, engaging tenants in the process.

Another suggestion to mitigate performance gaps is better management and monitoring, collating correct information and supplying it to the correct people and engaging them with the data through appropriate training.

The new BREEAM 2018 New Construction Manual aims to directly address some of these problems. The ‘reduction of energy use and carbon emissions’ issue has been restructured to offer 4 credits on the prediction of operational energy consumption. This involves design workshops focusing on operational performance, undertaking energy modelling during design and post-construction stage and carrying out risk assessments to highlight any significant design or technical risks that could impact performance.

In combination with this, BREEAM new construction 2018 has a post-occupancy certification stage. It confirms the process of monitoring and reporting on building performance once occupied and requires a BREEAM Assessor to report on actual energy consumption using energy models. It’s overall aim is to help design teams, facilities managers, occupants and building owners understand actual building performance to identify and rectify any deficiencies.


Please get in touch with Mainer Associates so we can assist with energy modelling and BREEAM objectives and help close the performance gap.

Spire Nottingham Achieves Very Good BREEAM Rating

Spire Nottingham is a hospital Located in Tollerton, South Nottingham near Nottingham City Airport offering a range of hospital services. The hospital will deliver a modern sophisticated environment for patients, providing oncology and endoscopy units.

The hospital is a redevelopment of a brownfield site sitting within several grade II listed buildings adjacent to a live runway that was previously used in the second world war. The design of the hospital was very important, ensuring that the aesthetic, design and layout were both sympathetic to the surrounding landscape and enhanced patient wellbeing. Building materials were used to complement the adjacent buildings. Another important aspect of the design were windows allowing patients a ‘view-out’ into the surrounding scenery.

The building was completed in 2017 and has recently been certified as a BREEAM Very Good building. Mainer Associates worked closely with Parker Wilson Consulting and the design team to ensure the asset was compliant with BREEAM standards throughout the course of the development.

Our BREEAM Assessors engaged with responsible team members at design stage and as a result, the development initially achieved a very good rating for design-stage certification. This alleviated a lot of unnecessary work and pressure from the project team at later stages of the development and construction phase. BREEAM Credits that are more practical and viable to gain in the early stages and contribute towards the rating were achieved.

Doing this puts any project in a good position to achieve the targeted certification at post-construction stage. Although it may sound obvious, for BREEAM assessments, starting at the start is critical.

Mainer Associates have enjoyed working alongside Parker Wilson Consulting as M&E Engineers, Morgan Sindall as the main contractor and Halliday Meacham as project Architects, on what is now a fantastic healthcare building.

Significant sustainability measures that were implemented on the project to help reduce the buildings environmental impact and achieve a very good rating included, selecting LED lighting, sustainable drainage systems, passive design measures and installation of photovoltaics and a heat recovery system.

The LED lighting helps the development maximise energy efficiency and with daylighting controls also installed, lighting is not used unnecessarily. The engineers also demonstrated a 15% reduction in the buildings cooling load as a result of passive design measures. This reduction reiterates the importance of committing to credits early in design stages. The combination of PV and heat recovery systems offer further operational energy reduction and provide more sustainable forms of energy production.

Overall, it has been a great project to be part and it is reassuring healthcare buildings are being built to exemplary sustainability standards.


Mainer Associates Welcomes New Graduate

As part of our growth and expansion Mainer Associate’s would like to introduce our new Graduate Sustainability Consultant, Dominic Wintie.

Dominic studied for a BA in Geography at the University of Manchester before staying on to complete his MSc in the same discipline. He tailored his studies and research projects to focus on cities, development and the key theories surrounding sustainability practice and governance. With an interest in development of urban landscapes and the sustainability of the built environment, Dom completed the BREEAM Associate course to broaden his professional knowledge on sustainability standards for the built environment.

The associate course was a fantastic way to gain a head start when looking for professional opportunities at Mainer Associates. It gave him initial insight and experience into the process of BREEAM assessments, which is a significant part of Mainer Associates’ work. Dominic initially conducted a part-time Internship, getting to know the team and getting to grips with the consultancy Mainer Associates conduct for their clients.

After completing the internship, Dominic was offered a Graduate Sustainability Consultant role. His role includes assisting the senior consultants in conducting environmental and BREEAM assessments, reviewing project information against the standards and criteria, updating online project platforms and helping to produce reports for project teams.

The addition of a graduate is a key to the on-going expansion of Mainer Associate as a sustainability consultancy. We are currently expanding into new areas of consultancy such as environmental-social-governance frameworks. We aim to be a leading multi-disciplinary environmental and sustainability consultancy with several employees trained in multiple areas of expertise. Appointing a new graduate gives us the opportunity to shape and train our workforce to the needs of the business, so important for the future aspirations of Mainer Associates and those of our clients.