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CIBSE BSG Event – NABERS UK through the lens of a modeller and two members of the IDR
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CIBSE BSG Event – NABERS UK through the lens of a modeller and two members of the IDR

11 Oct 23
3 minutes
Building Simulation Group

The CIBSE Building Simulation Group hosted a hybrid event in October 2023 aimed at NABERS UK and its impact on our industry where industry experts and professionals gather to explore the past, present, and future of NABERS UK.

Building Simulation Group blog image

Darren Coppins, Built Physics, one of the leading figures in assisting the initial implementation of NABERS UK (and also 1 of 11  Independent design reviewers for NABERS UK), introduced and provided the wider context of NABERS projects in the UK; later provided a scheme update, and detail as to where additional resource and training can be found (notably via the software agnostic CIBSE advanced simulation modelling for DfP course), to build on many of the topics covered in the event. Key points from the scheme update are:

  • NABERS UK is governed by the NABERS Scheme which is owned by Australia’s New South Wales Government.
  • BRE has Chosen to terminate it’s agreement to administer the UK scheme for NABERS.
  • The BRE have committed to continuing to support NABERS UK until a new administrator is appointed.
  • With the NABERS UK rules governed by NABERS and the wider steering group, no changes to rules are expected as part of this transition.
  • NABERS UK is expected to continue to grow to cover other building types, which are already covered by the Australian scheme.

Owen Boswell, Hoare Lea, discussed his perspective as a modeller, as well as engagingly touching on the significant opportunities and insight modelling presented for the wider team, and common issues he has encountered with projects he has worked within. Key advice being to:

  • Initially take a step back and gain a wholistic view of the project, its context and early stage opportunities, e.g., architecture.
  • The need to really work with the unique context of the building, not simply take previous traditionally adopted strategies, and leverage the insight modelling provides to help understand operation, and inform the ongoing design decision.
  • Cover the less glamorous, but equally important, and often overlooked administrative side to make the modeller’s/project team’s life more straightforward.

Owen also discussed his experiences of independent design reviews and the transparent, honest collaborative approach with the objective to maximise the potential for the buildings involved. A real opportunity to learn significant amounts for all involved and take these lessons forward. Finishing his presentation with a case study, highlighting utilisation of a district heat network and some of the unique associated  risks for these cases.

Building Simulation Group blog image

Hugh Gordon, Hilson Moran, and Claire Das Bhaumik, Inkling then discussed their perspectives as Independent Design Reviewers (IDRs). Hugh presented the purpose of modelling for DfP projects, reaffirming  many of Owen’s points, from an IDR perspective, to reinforce the significant value of modelling which is commonly overlooked and can be drawn upon to inform and assist the design process-rather then simply reflecting the likely outcome. Digging further into how some of these issues could be analysed and resolved at earlier stages. (referencing some of the initial projects reviewed).

Claire presented much more detail as to how simulation can really be improved, and common points which are frequently missed within NABERS projects:

  • The importance of controls and how these should be modelled and detailed. 
  • How to analyse specific, context dependent, risks to the project; enabling more insight as to likelihood and consequence, as well as how these can be mitigated against.
  • The need for the building to really perform, and the insight into sizing/control/efficiency that modelling outputs related to: unmet hours, and thermal comfort outputs can provide.
  • How the multiple sources of energy draw which make up the overall consumption of a building, not simply consumption linked to building services should be included and fully defined to ensure it is an accurate reflection of the reality.
  • The need to accurately project how much building energy PV will truly displace-particularly over non-occupied hours (such as Sundays) for larger PV arrays.

For more details, see the slides and to watch the whole event and very interesting Q&A head over to YouTube below: 


It was  great to see the significant collaboration for this event, which is a good mirror as to what is necessary for the design for performance projects themselves: illustrating the steps which are necessary, and now being taken to help the measurably, and transparently performing buildings the industry, and our clients need, are striving towards, and will be necessary if the wider trajectory to efficiency, and, Net Zero objectives, are to be met.

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