Strategies for low carbon buildings: Assessment of design options and the translation of design intent into performance in practice

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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To deliver low carbon buildings requires: a) Performance assessment and option
appraisal; b) Industry process to translate selected options into low carbon
performance in practice. This thesis aims to make some contribution in each of these two areas.

Legislation such as the European Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) is
stimulating the market to put forward many technical options for design or retrofit of low carbon buildings. The need is identified here for a low cost, EPBD compatible, simulation based, real time method for performance assessment and upgrade option appraisal to inform decisions for a range of users with various levels of technical knowledge. The hypothesis is advanced that such a method can be developed.

An EPBD compatible, dynamic simulation based, real time, performance assessment and option appraisal method is then proposed and evaluated. A range of test applications and user groups are considered. Test applications include the generation of energy performance ratings based on a simple questionnaire. Other applications cover a range of individual building, policy or strategy contexts.

A critical analysis is carried out of the applicability, scope and limitations of the
method. The proposed method proved useful in a range of applications. For other applications some limitations were identified. How these can be addressed is discussed. The development and deployment examples are for a specific building stock but provide insights to enable replication for other situations. The research provides a foundation for further research and development.

There is much evidence that selection of appropriate options is not sufficient to
achieve low carbon performance. Many issues can lead to gaps between intended and actual performance. Problems are identified in the design and implementation of low carbon systems and controls. Problems include poor understanding, errors in implementation, and poor visibility of actual performance. The need for a method to address these problems is identified. The hypothesis is advanced that such a method can be developed.

A Modular Control Mapping and Failure Mode Effect Analysis (FMEA) method is then proposed and evaluated for a range of test applications to buildings intended to be low carbon.

The insights from the test applications are reviewed and the scope and limitations of the proposed method discussed. Overall the applications were successful and the useful application demonstrated. The method was deployed post-occupancy, then applicability at various stages of the design process was demonstrated by using concept and detailed design information.

The modular control mapping and FMEA process proposed leverages in part the
approach taken in industrial sectors identified as benchmarks by proponents of the Building Information Modelling (BIM) initiative. The potential application of further processes from BIM benchmark industry is discussed in the context of current buildings industry initiatives.

The performance assessment and option appraisal method, the modular control
mapping and FMEA method, and the outcomes from their evaluations are intended to contribute to the realisation of low carbon buildings in practice. The future integration of both methods within a BIM framework is proposed.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
  • Clarke, Joseph Andrew, Supervisor
  • Johnstone, Cameron, Supervisor
Award date15 Apr 2013
Place of PublicationGlasgow
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2013



  • low carbon building
  • design options
  • practice-based research

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