The imminent release of the latest SAP calculation methodology (SAP 10) has given us a sneak peak at the new routes to energy compliance in the residential sector – this also allows us to speculate on the changes which may also be coming in the belated release of non-domestic PartL2A expected at some point next year.

Along with changes outlined below – the regulations are finally representing the great work the UK has done to embrace renewable power sources whilst simultaneously de-commissioning inefficient and carbon intensive methods of energy generation.

This will be a step change in how building servicing strategies are determined, placing greater emphasis on demand reduction to comply with the regulations – the balance of gas and grid electric carbon is now almost at parity and is only going one way in the future. Offsetting carbon generated by an inefficient building with PV will become less viable – driving building designers down a different path.

Here is a summary of the major changes and what they might mean to you:

Electric CO2 emissions reduce significantly

As mentioned above – the changes to the electricity related carbon emissions may be the most significant factor – reducing from 0.519 kgCO2/kWh to 0.233 kgCO2/kWh.

The carbon factor has been applied for current greener production and reduced carbon emissions associated with older method of producing electricity (coal burning).  SAP 10 recognises a greener grid and efficient energy mix for production which will give designers more options moving forward.

The assumed heating pattern has changed

Heating patterns traditionally assumed that weekend energy usage is higher than weekdays. Through study and actual data collection – this has been proven not to be the case. SAP 10 has been adapted to apply a more realistic daily pattern every day of the week. This aims to reduce energy use and cost overall.

Default distribution loss factors associated with heat networks have been increased

Decentralised network losses have been underestimated or where unknown, too much leeway has been given in the current version. Changes will marginally reduce effectiveness which could have impacts particularly on schemes where heat networks are popular and significant carbon reductions are required by Planning –  London for example. There will be a focus on calculating and proving anticipated network losses in order to claim benefits – continuing to leave losses as ‘default’ will mean that the assumption is taken that 50% of heat is lost in transmission resulting in huge carbon penalties to be offset elsewhere. This is where employing a CIBSE Accredited Heat Network Consultant can also pay real dividends to help minimise these losses through good design and implementation of the recognised best practice standard.

The calculation of lighting energy has been updated

Accurate lighting design will have a higher impact against a simpler approach to calculation in previous SAP models. This is in line with the SBEM method which credits lighting type(s) with higher efficacies

The options for entering thermal bridges have been revised

As accuracy and age of the ACD scheme (Accredited Construction Details) have come into question, SAP 10 will remove this with the introduction of alternative schemes or giving the option for bespoke heat loss values to be calculated for each junction. Not using thermally efficient construction details will have a big impact on carbon compliance.

Hot water consumption has been adjusted for shower flow rate

As opposed to a standardised usage value, SAP 10 will take actual flow rates from each shower based on fittings used. This will lead to variations between fitting types and more alignment with water energy efficiency calculations under Part G of Building Regs.

The configuration of PV systems will matter

SAP 2012 used a fixed assumption for the proportion of electrical energy generated by Photovoltaic (PV) systems to be consumed within the dwelling regardless of what is connected to an individual dwelling.

This has now been changed so formulas calculate only direct PV supply per dwelling.

PV diverters can now be included

A PV diverter prevents electricity produced from photovoltaic panels from being exported to the grid, and instead directs it to an immersion heater in the water cylinder. It will now be possible to account for these systems in SAP 10 which will provide extra design options.

MCS overshading data can now be used

An option will now exist in SAP 10 to allow the overshading factor used for the PV calculation to be taken from Microgeneration Certification Scheme data. This would overwrite the default options currently available in SAP.

In summary, these changes will provide much needed additional sophistication and accuracy to the SAP calculation enabling building designers to drill down into the carbon impact of the measures they are taking. In theory, greater accuracy at design stage will enable better prediction of performance in use and the better application of various building technology – all round a step in the right direction.

The WELL standard

During the last decade the industry has quickly evolved to tackle climate change, energy and carbon reduction – this mindset is now established and engrained as ‘part of the day job’ for building designers and operators.

Concurrently, significant scientific study has been undertaken into the effects of the built environment on our cognition, health, productivity & general wellbeing and people are starting to realise that creating a better environment for our workers can have a far bigger impact on the bottom line than almost any other form of investment. The WELL Building Standard is the first of its kind to focus on strategies to support environments designed to enhance health and wellbeing. The standard targets our main body systems which enable humans to live, learn and work, grouped into 10 main concepts (Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Movement, Thermal comfort, Sound, Material, Mind and Community) The benefits of each intervention are evidenced by a solid body of scientific work designed to have a small positive impact on our human experiences.

The recent release of v2 of the standard offers the perfect opportunity to get on board with the WELL movement and really make positive changes to the buildings we occupy with alternative schemes such as FITWEL and the BCO Wellness Roadmap for Offices offering different pathways to achieving the same outcome – better buildings for us all.

Whichever route you choose, full or partial assessment, ‘in principle’ measures incorporated into new projects or refurbishments; this will certainly be a differentiator for your organisation, helping attract and retain happy and productive staff. Businesses typically spend up to 90% of their overhead costs on salaries and benefits, around 9% for rent & operations and 1% for energy. It therefore follows that the space we create for employees should be focused on getting the best out of the people we invest in.

Better human environments
As building designers and operators, we can influence human environments for the better through the adoption of WELL concepts – for example, the Mind concept not only looks to support mental health (which affects 30% of adults during their lifetime & costs the global economy an estimated $1tn annually) but also seeks to create a positive environment by offering access to nature and advice on strategies to enhance a positive state of mind. The concept also looks at support programs to discuss mental health relating to sleep, stress and substance use.

A theme running through the Movement concept is the promotion of activity at work with the introduction of active furnishings, improved ergonomics and alternative breakout areas. Using stairways, offering fitness classes and encouraging active commutes via walking running and cycling are all enhancing fitness and activity – the increased interactions this brings with fellow workers will also foster a sense of community and team spirit.

Internal environments which are thermally comfortable all year round, flooded with fresh air and making the best possible use of natural light will inevitably produce a greater sense of wellbeing and improve our experiences. Building designers, Architects, MEP Engineers, Building Physicists and Lighting Designers all play a pivotal role in getting it right on the drawing board, but will space churn and layout changes have potential unintended consequences for the users? Maintaining a WELL certification will involve continuous monitoring and validation of these key indicators to ensure building performance right through the lifecycle.

In summary, the wellbeing movement is whipping up real interest – we firmly believe that adoption of the principles for the next generation of building design can only have positive impacts for us all.

Light is essential. It enables our perception of form, colour, and texture. It is critical to human health, influencing circadian rhythms and our energy, mood, and productivity.

Emerging research into circadian stimulus led the Well Building Standard to propose and implement new metrics for assessing the circadian stimulus provided by both daylight and electric light. These new metrics require innovative approaches to simulation and means of interpreting data to assess circadian lighting potential during the design process.

Though designers are beginning to look to electric lighting to provide improved circadian function i.e. ‘changing white’ technology, the first step in designing to support circadian system function should be to ensure access to daylight.

Daylight is the most effective way to provide the health benefits of circadian lighting – new methods for measuring and simulating daylight in buildings are critical to ensuring that facade and building designs respond to the most appropriate drivers. Data tells us that rather than illuminating a working plane to a level and uniformity, it is the light on the vertical plane that’s important i.e. the light that enters our eyes when we are sat (or stood) at our workstations.

The provision of lighting that delivers circadian system benefits is growing to be an important health factor in the built environment. Research on this topic is contributing to an ever-increasing body of evidence that our circadian response to sky glow, light trespass, glare and over- or under-illumination affect our health and well-being.

Implementing this can be tricky and difficult to verify in terms of effectiveness during design process. For daylighting in a project, well-known rules of thumb are useful as initial design guidance for simple buildings. However, buildings with complex floorplates, ambiguous or changeable floorplan layouts and complex facade strategies require more detailed analysis to verify that the design fulfils the intent to provide quality circadian lighting primarily through daylight.

The illumination guidelines of WELL Building Standard for light are aimed to minimize disruption to the body’s circadian system, enhance productivity, support good sleep quality and provide appropriate visual acuity where needed.

One of the most important factors to evaluate when designing to meet the Equivalent Melanopic Lux  (EML) target is the availability of daylight. Not all light sources are equal in terms of circadian stimulus (CS). Daylight is the best option for both energy efficiency and CS because it requires no energy input and the wavelength spectrum of daylight closely aligns with circadian stimulus.

Early analysis and modelling of daylighting is key to analyse the maximum daylight offering before implementing an artificial lighting strategy.

Increase productivity & happiness – make your environment WELL

As traditional sustainability rating system such as LEED and BREEAM focus on the building process, procurement, energy consumption and reduction of carbon emissions the IWBI (International WELL Building Institute) certification scheme brings a fresh approach to sustainability, concentrating on ‘human sustainability’ and the benefits that building design can bring to Health & Wellbeing of us, their occupants.

As individuals we spend, during our lives, on average 90% of our time in the built environment. With this and the ever growing concern for mental health, thermal comfort and general health issues, the WELL standard sets out realistic targets and preconditions to design and implement an internal environment that supports our wellbeing. The standard focuses on:

·       Air quality

·       Water quality

·       Comfort

·       Lighting

·       Nourishment

·       Fitness

·       Mind

The standard aims to elevate our working, learning and living standards to reduce stress, combat mental health, improve productivity and create more comfortable healthy living conditions. The WELL standard also comes with close links to BREEAM and LEED where certain pre-conditions and requirements cross all standards giving an aligned approach for an energy efficient healthy building.

Fitwel

Fitwel provides tailored strategies for multifamily residential and workplace properties to optimize unique opportunities for each project.

The Fitwel Scorecards include 55+ evidence-based design and operational strategies that enhance buildings by addressing a broad range of health behaviours and risks. Each strategy is associated with unique point allocations, based on the strength of associated evidence and the demonstrated impact on occupant health. This means that strategies with stronger, multi-faceted impacts receive more points.

Fitwel addresses health as an interconnected system, with no single dominant category or area of focus, and as such all strategies are voluntary, with no individual prerequisites.

The categories cover:

·       Impacts community health

·       Reduces morbidity + absenteeism

·       Supports social equity for vulnerable populations

·       Instills feelings of wellbeing

·       Provides healthy food options

·       Promotes occupant safety

·       Increases physical activity

Both WELL and Fitwell offer factual research-based accreditation systems that focus on the promotion of better internal conditions.

As champions of the WELL movement and Ambassadors of FITWEL, we have huge faith in the benefits that this aspect of building design can bring to teams, workforces and communities.

Get in touch, we’d love to chat to you about it.