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.

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