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Opportunities and Limitations of Building Energy Performance Simulation Tools in the Early Stages of Building Design in the UK

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Ramy Mahmoud, Dr John Kamara, Dr Neil Burford



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


This research investigates the use of Building Energy Performance Simulation (BEPS) toolsin the early stages of building design in UK architectural practices with a particular focus on thebarriers and opportunities to their effective application and further uptake. Two primary methodsof investigation were undertaken; the first was a wide survey among UK architects and architecturalpractices, where the responses of 418 participants were electronically gathered and analysed. Adeeper understanding of the issues was developed through an analysis of the process of low-energybuilding design using semi-structured interviews with six representatives of well-establishedarchitectural practices in the UK. The findings reveal that while there is an increasing understandingof the importance of BEPS involvement at the early design stages, there was limited evidence ofactual early implementation of BEPS tools other than a few well known but specialised tools suchas Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) which were used mainly for domestic energyperformance evaluation. However, many practices surveyed showed interest in achieving higherstandards than the “basic” regulatory backstops, which has resulted in Passive House and BREEAMseeing increasing use in domestic and non-domestic projects respectively. Although there has beena significant increase in the development and availability of tools and methodologies for assessingbuilding energy performance our study shows that the focus for future research needs to be shiftedfrom the “tool development” to looking at methods of implementing and using such tools in practiceat the early design stages.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Mahmoud R, Kamara JM, Burford N

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Sustainability

Year: 2020

Volume: 12

Issue: 22

Online publication date: 20/11/2020

Acceptance date: 13/11/2020

Date deposited: 20/11/2020

ISSN (electronic): 2071-1050

Publisher: MDPI


DOI: 10.3390/su12229702


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