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CIBSE ASHRAE Symposium learns international lessons to help close the building performance gap

The 4th annual CIBSE ASHRAE Technical Symposium, held at the Dublin Institute of Technology, highlighted the problem of buildings failing to perform to their design intentions, and presented new processes, technologies and best practice to tackle this issue. Bringing together delegates from the UK, USA and beyond, the Symposium showed where international comparisons could provide lessons in how to improve building performance.

CIBSE Past President Andy Ford chaired a session on 'Evaluating the performance gap' at which Esfandiar Burman of UCL highlighted the lessons which could be learned in the UK from ASHRAE's building energy labelling programme 'building Energy Quotient (bEQ)'. Greater consistency in baselines defined for the ‘As Designed’ and ‘In Operation’ schemes, attention to key determinants of energy use based on building type, and an integrated approach to operational rating & indoor environmental quality are among the key contributions of bEQ that can help improve building energy certification programmes.

Further lessons from America came from Daniel Wright of the Pratt Institute who outlined how New York could reduce it's carbon footprint by 90% by 2050. He said: "Deep energy efficiency retrofits can lower building energy use by more than 50% and with these retrofits, New York buildings can eliminate fuel use and operate on the electric energy now used."
The discrepancy between design and operation of buildings was a recurring theme, as was the need for effective benchmarking to drive improved building performance. Bill Bordass, Usable Buildings Trust, used the example of schools to highlight the need for an integrated benchmarking system for non-domestic buildings. He said "Energy benchmarks are too often poorly-matched to the characteristics of the buildings being benchmarked. Procedures that focus on CO2 emissions can also distance people from the physical realities of energy use by source and end use."

Judit Kimpian of Aedas Architects also presented an analysis of real energy data from CarbonBuzz, a database of actual building energy performance data.

Prizes were presented to the following speakers:

  • Most effective delivery of material: Richard Rooley and Alex MacLaren - "Teambuild: training for collaboration, human failures and success in a technical industry"

  • Most significant contribution to the art and science of building services engineering: Benjamin Skelton - "It's not easy being green: Walgreen's net-zero energy store"

The full programme of speakers and posters is at and supporting documentation is available from

Ben Skelton receives the Award for Best Paper Ben Skelton receives the Award for Best Paper