performance gap blog image-1

How does your house perform? Ask many homeowners and they would look at you in a puzzled way and start to edge towards the door. Ask them how their car performs and you are likely get somewhere in the answer a mention of the miles per gallon. Efficiency of cars is front of mind, that of your house, unless you are unusually familiar with its EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) lurks in the back somewhere behind the more pressing issues of room sizes, quality of kitchen/bathroom and whether it has anywhere to park the car.

The Government however, are concerning themselves with Building Performance, so will the output of this investigation be of any interest to the average new home buyer? At the moment, a building’s ‘Performance Gap’ is starting to get more attention. This is the gap between the expected performance of the building and the performance it actually achieves in reality. The Zero Carbon Hub was commissioned by Government to look into the possible causes and have just issued an extensive ‘End of Term Report’ called ‘Closing the gap between design and as-built performance’.

Zero Carbon 2016

Performance here is all about carbon emissions as the Government have a target to achieve Zero Carbon Homes in 2016 and nearly Zero Energy Buildings in 2019. Lower CO2 emissions from a new house would of course give lower fuel bills, however to the average new house buyer this is perhaps not what they would associate with ‘Building Performance’. They are far more likely to say that their house performs well if the plumbing, heating, lighting works without any problem, the roof doesn’t leak and there has been no need to contact the builder post construction.

Some of the factors highlighted within the Zero Carbon Hub report such as:

  • Encouraging continuity at the design stage
  • Improving product labelling and installation instructions
  • Increasing skills and training for the workforce
  • Improving building commissioning

These factors can only help to improve overall build quality of new houses as well as lower the carbon emissions.

Filling the gap…

If the recommendations in the report are implemented it will result in more energy efficient buildings and must be good news for the consumer. However, if low carbon emissions are so darned important why aren’t all new houses produced with an ‘A’ rating on the EPC rather than built to just comply with Building Regulations?  That of course, is down to reasons of cost and market forces.

In the current climate, there are not enough houses being built and the consumer just wants a house to buy rather than one that doesn’t trouble the CO2 scorers too much. With the construction industry contributing 5 to 6% of GDP the Government just wants to avoid doing anything that may hinder the recovery as has been evidenced by the watering down of the recent CO2 reductions in Part L 2013.

Improving Building Performance through CO2 reduction is a noble long term goal however the ‘Gap’ that really matters to home buyers, is that between supply and demand. To close both gaps at the same time will be a performance indeed.