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Energy meter woe strikes Stirling 2012 winner

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The smart energy meter on Stanton Williams’ Stirling Prize-winning Sainsbury Laboratory in Cambridge is being rejigged after readings unexpectedly flew off the scale

The high-profile 11,000m² research laboratory recorded surprisingly high levels of energy consumption because it was hooked up to high energy-using ‘plant growth chambers’ nearby – client the University of Cambridge confirmed.

The university has teamed up with Arup – the scheme’s building services engineer – to uncouple the award-winning building’s meter from the plant growth chambers, which are capable of simulating artificial climates for 365-days-a-year.

The £65 million building exceeded Part L building regulations – based on background regulated energy usage such as heat production – and has already been awarded BREEAM Excellent rating and scored B on its energy performance certificate.  

However the plant growth chambers – which account for user-driven unregulated energy usage – boosted the complex’s overall metre readings, skewing the data for award-winning main building’s power consumption.

In a statement, the University of Cambridge said: ‘Work is now being undertaken to separate out the metering of these facilities from the main building to give a clearer picture of energy efficiency and usage of the main building and of the plant growth units.’

Photovoltaic panels have also been installed on the building’s flat roof as part of Stanton William’s renewable energy strategy for the building.

Gavin Henderson of the practice said: ‘Carrying out an energy performance evaluation after completion and occupation of a building is an important step to understand if the design and construction aspirations have been met.

‘The Sainsbury Laboratory was designed to be energy efficient and has been completed to a very high construction standard. There are however significant unregulated energy loads related to the scientific process in plant growth chambers nearby. We are pleased that work is being undertaken to separate these out and give a clearer picture of the energy efficiency of the main building.’

The Sainsbury Laboratory’s post occupancy evaluation has yet to be completed and is expected to take place next year.

This week the AJ launched Bridge the Gap, a campaign to close to the gap between the expected energy performance of buildings, and how they actually perform.







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