Robert Cohen previews his talk at Ecobuild


Robert Cohen

Thursday 6 March, 12.30 - 14.00

Measuring and understanding energy use to optimise building performance

Speaker highlight:
Measuring and understanding energy use in practice and diagnosing improvements
Robert Cohen, technical director, Verco

The Building Regulations requirement to install energy sub-meters to new non-domestic buildings is all too often ignored or complied with in such a tick-box fashion that these contribute nothing to improving building performance. Either the system is not commissioned, does not work or delivers poor quality data. Even where insightful data is being produced, there is often no one available to transform it into actionable information. Lo and behold, the energy management of most new buildings is no better than it was before 2002 when the requirement was introduced. Despite the regulatory and financial pressure to make buildings more energy efficient, far too few people take advantage of regulations actually to achieve low energy outcomes. Compliance often turns into bureaucracy, which then results in industry and politicians pushing back against so-called green tape.

Such behaviour is not inevitable. I’ve recently been evaluating the performance of two new supermarkets at different parts of the retail spectrum. Both have been exemplar energy performers, using energy sub-metering to verify if targets are being achieved. Their behaviour is not altruistic - they know that energy efficiency helps their business to avoid the negative impacts associated with a poorly performing building, even before taking into account the financial savings from lower running costs.

Why has this not become standard practice across the non-domestic sector? I realise repeat business drives suppliers to satisfy key clients, and repeat designs enable feedback to work its magic. But that is the point: feedback does work. The rewards of feedback are a proven fact of life in some sectors. Too often we imply energy sub-metering is a nice-to-have holy grail; rather than the no-brainer proof-of-the-pudding feedback system it should be. Just do it and you will see the difference. Come and learn how.