Monday 15 December 2014

Knowle relocation project: "How efficiently is this building being used?"

The agents 'marketing' Knowle have some useful information on the property:
Savills UK | The Knowle | Development | To Buy

One such piece of information is the latest 'Display Energy Certificate' - issued in December 2012:

This gives a rating of 'C' - which is in the 'green zone' - which probably indicates 'more energy efficient' - which is something SVEAG/SidEnergy pointed out some time ago:

In the consultant's Davis Langdon 'Project Viability Report – Rev D (4) - June 2013', it states:

Notwithstanding the Knowle Office’s current Display Energy Certificate (DEC) rating of C, the building is considered as providing poor value in terms of energy costs. During the last financial year energy costs totalled £ 75,069.  

Cabinet - Wednesday 17 July 2013 - agenda - public version

The question therefore arises: 
If it has such a good energy rating, then why are the energy bills so high? 

Perhaps it is not the building,,, but poor energy management...

This is from the District Council's 'Carbon Management Plan' of 2009:

4 Carbon Management Projects:

Heating control at the Knowle:
External air temperatures are monitored on a daily basis and the heating managed appropriately. This makes the best use of a heating system that is not designed to be controlled at the point of use

Control off peak heating:
Better control of the night storage heating system at the Knowle.

Voltage optimisation – Knowle
Costing around £23,000 voltage optimisation at the Knowle would result in reduced electricity costs of at least £16,000 per annum, making a simple payback of under 2 years


It seems, therefore, that the District Council had been considering investing in the energy infrastructure at Knowle to create energy savings. And indeed, the new uPVC windows installed at Knowle in 2008 would have made considerable savings.

It is not clear, however, to what extent these 'better controls' have been carried out. In which case, analysis of energy use is largely speculation - as the very latest information is not available. 

On the one hand, the extraordinary figures which the District Council has chosen to release are difficult to verify independently:

Agenda - Future of the Knowle: Item7

Knowle has annual energy costs of £83,900 pa compared to a predicted energy cost for Honiton/Exmouth combined of £33,700 pa. Even after repairs, Knowle energy costs would still be double those of the Honiton/Exmouth alternative.

Refurbishment of all of the existing buildings will cost up to £15.9m. This can reduce if only newer parts of the office spaces were refurbished and with minimum additional build but the cost will still be of the order of £7.7m

Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: comparing the Sidmouth and Honiton/Exmouth options

On the other hand, the lack of a current Display Energy Certificate (DEC) might suggest that the District Council has not been too interested in its energy consumption - until now, that is:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: Predicting energy price increases over the next 20 years

The District Council has not updated its DEC - although there is a legal requirement for this to be carried out on an annual basis:
Exploring the use of Display Energy Certificates: Department of Energy & Climate Change

"Display Energy Certificates were introduced to raise public awareness of energy use and a valid current certificate should be displayed in a prominent place for all relevant buildings. The certificate is accompanied by an Advisory Report, which makes recommendations for improving the energy efficiency of the building."

Improving the energy efficiency of our buildings: A guide to display energy certificates and advisory reports for public buildings 

In fact, the certificate which is available to the public to view on-line is from 2008/9 - although the energy rating seems to be exactly the same as in the above DEC from 2012:
Non-Domestic Energy Performance Certificate Register

Interestingly, the recommendations made in 2008 by the Energy Assessor in his Advisory Report (AR) stated:

An energy assessor would indicate that, not only is it good practice, but it is also sound maintenance policy, to ensure an ongoing programme of energy efficiency measures, as laid out in the Advisory Report, for the benefit of users of the building and as a way of cost saving.

And yet it is impossible to verify to what extent these recommendations were followed up...

... even though there is quite a science behind the management of energy use:

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