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Join the AJ campaign and help us Bridge the Gap in building performance

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The Bridge the Gap campaign has been launched to put the spotlight on building performance, says Hattie Hartman

There is a huge gap between the expected energy performance of buildings, and how they actually perform. On average, actual energy use is twice that predicted, according to data collected on real projects via CarbonBuzz. That’s why the AJ has launched its latest campaign – Bridge the Gap – to put the spotlight on building performance and to publish best practice.

The campaign will raise awareness about the energy gap, profiling practices that are unafraid to share their data (even when things haven’t gone to plan). Project teams must be brave enough to share openly what has worked and not worked and how problems have been addressed. We all learn from our mistakes, but how can we learn from them if we don’t know what they are? We need industry-wide transparency – and bravery.

Clients must be willing to pay for performance monitoring and agree to it up-front. Building performance evaluation must be written into briefs at the outset of projects. One such exemplar case was spearheaded by the late Howard Liddell at the Acharacle Primary School for the Highland Council.

The London Borough of Islington has recently adopted a Green Performance Plan, which requires that any project larger than 1,000m2 or 10 units of housing must include a two-year post-completion monitoring plan. This is a step in the right direction. Will this be the next Merton Rule, adopted widely by other local authorities?

My hunch is yes, and it is to be hoped, with better outcomes.

We’ll also be looking at how architectural education can familiarise students with performance evaluation and metering.

The strong showing at last week’s Mind the Gap event, which the AJ co-hosted with Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, is an indicator of the groundswell of interest in this issue.

I urge AJ readers to take up Pete Halsall’s challenge. Revisit your past projects with a thermal camera in hand to learn about their performance. Send me your findings – and your ‘fixes’ – so that we can all start to bridge the performance gap. As for the campaign, watch
this space.

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