National Stakeholder Forum Meeting held in UK

In the UK, a stakeholders’ workshop was held at the BRE Innovation Park in Ravenscraig on 16 August 2016 and delegates came from CSIC, SELECT, Derryherk, RSP, ECCI, UoS, BRE and BSD.  BSD is the Building Standards Division, which is a government department responsible for setting building regulations in Scotland. 

Stephen Garvin of BRE introduced the forum members to the HIT2GAP project.  He outlined that the purpose of HIT2GAP is to reduce the performance gap between expected and actual energy consumption in existing non-domestic buildings.  Stephen also briefly introduced the BUILT2SPEC project, which is a complementary project to HIT2GAP, but which addresses design and construction rather than building operation.

The discussion expanded to the role of an ‘energy platform’ in achieving project goals and the fact that the intention is that the energy platform will be ‘open’ to allow third party suppliers of software to add their ‘plug and play’ applications.

The UK forum members engaged well with the concept and expressed the view that the success of the design and operation of the platform will be critical to the success of the project.  They also asked about the post-occupancy evaluation element of the project.

It was suggested that the ‘Soft Landings’ approach used by the UK Usable Buildings Trust could be used to HIT2GAP’s benefit.

As a means of measuring success, face-to-face feedback from building users was considered to be more effective than online surveys. The forum suggested that BRE explores a Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE) approach and reports the outcome of this to the HIT2GAP partners.

Attendees also suggested that, in addition to the four HIT2GAP pilot demonstrations, which are being conducted in Warsaw, Galway, Paris and San Sebastian, a second tier of buildings could be used to pilot the platform to provide more evidence of its success.

Sean Doran of BRE outlined the approach taken for the case studies and provided a description of the four pilot buildings. The complexity of the buildings was remarked upon by delegates, who suggested that HIT2GAP might benefit from also trialling on some simpler buildings.  It was noted, however, that every building presents unique challenges and that implementing a HIT2GAP system even in a relatively simple building might be difficult.  One delegate suggested a particular building in the UK, which has a similar function to the one at San Sebastian, but which is smaller and simpler, that could potentially be utilised by the HIT2GAP team for trialling the HIT2GAP platform. 

Daniel Costola of UoS gave the final presentation of the day, outlining the work that was being undertaken in Work Package 1 of the HIT2GAP project, which is aimed at establishing requirements and developing a framework and methodology for the HIT2GAP platform.  He explained that whilst simulation generally happens at design stage only, HIT2GAP is looking at how to simulate a building which is in its operational phase.  Daniel also explained that the performance gap has two strands: an asset gap, which can largely be dealt with via simulation, and a human gap, which includes the user component.  The latter includes unexpected factors such as, for example, adventitious plug loads (e.g. electricity used by people in the building to charge mobile phones) and it is difficult to determine because occupiers will use buildings in unforeseen ways. 

Discussion

Delegates were interested to know how ‘plug’ loads might be estimated, and sub-metering was suggested as a way forward.  Delegates suggested that facilities managers need to be involved in the process of designing the visual display aspects of the HIT2GAP platform. 

Scotland does not require Display Energy Certificates (DEC’s) and HIT2GAP might overcome this problem, which is caused in part by a lack of available data (to building managers) by providing the necessary information for facility and estate managers.  It was suggested that the project must show what HIT2GAP will provide that existing BMS systems do not currently provide.  HIT2GAP must link with other projects, techniques and policies to give the project ‘gravitas’.  These links should be highlighted in dissemination activities. 

In the final session of the day, Dr Garvin presented some key questions to the forum, for discussion, or order to generate feedback which could help to steer the project. 

  1. What is the relevance of HIT2GAP in the UK?
  2. As a stakeholder, what benefits do you envisage and what benefits would you like to see?
  3. How might our dissemination activities be more effective?

This generated a number of interesting points, some of which are listed below:

  • Having a dynamic approach to simulation, with the possibility of third party organisations providing new tools, makes HIT2GAP potentially of great benefit to UK;
  • This would be enhanced if the platform nature allowed new tools, developed by SME’s and others to be ‘plugged in’;
  • The provision of knowledge of how to improve building performance will provide feedback not only to building users but to the design of future buildings;
  • Public bodies may benefit from HIT2GAP information on how best to provide ‘soft landings’ for designers, in satisfying their requirements;
  • Access to the platform has to be made public as soon as possible to demonstrate that it exists and that it confers benefits;
  • HIT2GAP needs to be presented in a simple way, with a suitable definition of what is meant by the ‘data platform’;
  • End-user involvement in the project and public access to the platform would demonstrate its existence and also its benefits.
  • Even if the process of engaging with the platform is complex – it needs to appear simple – it was suggested that the team engages with game designers through a ‘hackathon-type’ workshop to explore this.

All of this will be critical to HIT2GAP’s widespread success.