'We must trap unintended consequences' (Bill Bordass, 2009)
This example shows a frost thermostat improperly set at 17°C on installation - resulting in the energising of the wall heater in a plant room of a new low-energy school so wasting more electricity than the wind generator created. The wind generator was intended to offset the entire building's annual heating energy use. (Bill Bordass, 2009).
POEs have the potential to reduce the environmental impact of a building
They do this through the fine-tuning of the building services and by enabling occupiers to better understand how to operate their building. The latter point is crucial in the context of modern buildings which increasingly contain complicated mechanical and electrical systems which, while intended to achieve energy efficiency savings, are often misunderstood and thus not living up to their potential.
Benefits of POEs for the Users
• Fine-tuning of the building services to reduce the environmental impact of the building.
• Providing a better understanding of how to operate the building that results in improved performance.
• Identifying ways of improving staff performance and motivation through improved management of their working environment.
• Highlighting areas where maintenance costs could be reduced or minimised.
Benefits of POEs for the project team
• Increased 'design know-how'.
• Reduced future liability.
• Reduced future project costs.
• Improved procurement and delivery processes, e.g. using Soft Landings procedures.
• Likelihood of better client references.
Can POEs help construction professionals deliver more 'sustainable' buildings?
There appears an apathetic view from industry as to a POE's potential for delivering useful information, with many claiming that POEs just tell them what they already know.
POEs encourage the client, design team and contractor to review all the building performance issues openly and holistically, allowing time for discussion and reflection. So that even if the issues raised were already known, there's encouragement to consider alternative solutions and an improved likelihood to learn from mistakes and so helping to deliver more sustainable buildings in the future.
It is nearly always possible to improve the performance of a building through POE but this requires motivation from the entire POE team, client and building users.
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