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Assessing the performance of a building or other asset during the procurement, design and construction phase remains a significant challenge for the industry and its operational energy use and emissions can come as a shock.

New guidance published today from the Construction Innovation Hub (the Hub) responds to this challenge by defining operational energy and carbon dioxide emissions information exchanges for Government Soft Landings (GSL) and other soft landings projects so that emerging performance can be made visible enabling corrective actions to be taken, or energy penalties accepted.

The Energy and Carbon Reporting Framework defines when operational energy and emissions need to be analysed and reported at key gateways. The reporting points have been mapped against the gateways of most common project frameworks used in construction and infrastructure projects where powered systems are used, including the 2020 RIBA Plan of Work, the UK BIM Framework (formalised in BS 8536 Parts 1 and 2), and BSRIA BG6:2018 A design framework for building services.

The reporting requirements are supported by flowcharts that show what data and information are required for each gateway. The flowcharts illustrate the inputs for each stage. Flowcharts and supporting guidance extend beyond handover into the professional aftercare stages of Soft Landings and GSL.

Written by Dr Roderic Bunn and James Warne at WMEBoom, this guidance provides a framework for the analysis of operational energy and emissions within a digital representation of a project. It applies to all construction, infrastructure and civil engineering projects where powered systems are used. The purpose of this tool is to enable information to be managed, transparently and clearly throughout the asset lifecycle so that it forms a record of what decisions are made and when. It is supported by a spreadsheet tool which is being made freely available to all engineers and architects who opt to track operational energy and emissions during a construction project to provide the functionality necessary for the assessment of operational energy and carbon dioxide emissions as a project progresses through delivery and into operation. Changes can be recorded in one spreadsheet rather than being dispersed over several files. Each change is captured individually, and the energy saving (or penalty) of a change is summarised in terms of kilowatt hours, kilograms of carbon dioxide, and energy cost (based on a user selected unit cost of electricity, and fossil gas or biofuel as appropriate).

This guidance can be used together with the Hub’s GSL frameworks and forms part of a suite of digital tools that provide invaluable and extensive insights into how buildings and infrastructure are currently functioning in driving efficiency, as well as helping to deliver the wider Net Zero carbon agenda. It also supports the Construction Leadership Council's CO2nstructZero programme which sets out how the construction sector can meet the Net Zero challenge, in particular points 7 and 8 in the action plan which focus on measuring and designing out carbon in construction activity including reducing embedded and operational carbon. It will be useful to government clients and project managers, as well as local authorities who are currently using the Hub’s Local Authority Government Soft Landings (GSL) Interactive Navigator, developed in association with the National Association of Construction Frameworks and the Local Government Association. GSL is intended to support the public sector but will also provide benefit for the private sector in enabling a smooth transition from construction to operation, and the soft landings approach is applicable to all public-sector and commercial clients.  
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Although the Energy and Carbon Reporting Framework is primarily aimed at project teams adopting the procedures in Soft Landings, it is applicable to all projects where the client requires energy and emissions to be tracked continually. Modelling of a project’s emerging energy performance during procurement, design and construction can help a project team keep track of outturn performance and close performance gaps as they appear – and before they become fixed and irretrievable.

At its heart, GSL and soft landings are about supporting better operational and societal outcomes, including energy efficiency and reduced carbon dioxide emissions. It is about maintaining the ‘golden thread’ of a facility’s purpose by aligning the interests of those who commission, design and construct an asset, as well as those who use and maintain it. This guidance will help to ensure resilience and maximise the value of built assets over their lifetime by helping to build accurate representations of energy use and real-time calculations of energy cost and carbon dioxide emissions to monitor and optimise how a building will perform in operation.

Click to view enlarged version of Figure 2: