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Building performance evaluation and certification in the UK: a critical review of SAP?

Listed author(s):
  • Kelly, S.
  • Pollitt, M.
  • Crawford-Brown, D.

Improving the efficiency and performance of the UK residential sector is now necessary for meeting future energy and climate change targets. Building Performance Evaluation and Certification (BPEC) tools are vital for estimating and recommending cost effective improvements to building energy efficiency and lowering overall emissions. In the UK, building performance is estimated using the Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) for new dwellings and Reduced SAP (RdSAP) for existing dwellings. Using a systems based approach we show there are many opportunities for improving the effectiveness of BPEC tools. In particular, if the building stock is going to meet future energy and climate change targets the system driving building energy efficiency will need to become more efficient. In order to achieve this goal, building performance standards across Europe are compared highlighting the most effective strategies where they are found. It is shown that the large variance between estimated and actual energy performance from dwellings in the UK may be preventing the adoption of bottom-up energy efficiency measures. We show that despite popular belief, SAP and RdSAP do not estimate building energy efficiency but instead attempt to estimate the cost-effective performance of a building and thus create perverse incentives that may lead to additional CO2 emissions. In this regard, the SAP standard confounds cost-effectiveness, energy efficiency and environmental performance giving an inadequate estimate of all three policy objectives. Important contributions for improving measurement, analysis, synthesis and certification of building performance characteristics are offered.

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Paper provided by Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge in its series Cambridge Working Papers in Economics with number 1238.

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Date of creation: 04 Oct 2012
Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:1238
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  1. Kelly, Scott & Pollitt, Michael, 2010. "An assessment of the present and future opportunities for combined heat and power with district heating (CHP-DH) in the United Kingdom," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(11), pages 6936-6945, November.
  2. Scarpa, Riccardo & Willis, Ken, 2010. "Willingness-to-pay for renewable energy: Primary and discretionary choice of British households' for micro-generation technologies," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 129-136, January.
  3. Kelly, Scott, 2011. "Do homes that are more energy efficient consume less energy?: A structural equation model of the English residential sector," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 36(9), pages 5610-5620.
  4. Druckman, Angela & Jackson, Tim, 2009. "The carbon footprint of UK households 1990-2004: A socio-economically disaggregated, quasi-multi-regional input-output model," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(7), pages 2066-2077, May.
  5. Kennedy, Scott & Sgouridis, Sgouris, 2011. "Rigorous classification and carbon accounting principles for low and Zero Carbon Cities," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(9), pages 5259-5268, September.
  6. Clarke, Joseph A. & Johnstone, Cameron M. & Kelly, Nicolas J. & Strachan, Paul A. & Tuohy, Paul, 2008. "The role of built environment energy efficiency in a sustainable UK energy economy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(12), pages 4605-4609, December.
  7. Xing, Yangang & Hewitt, Neil & Griffiths, Philip, 2011. "Zero carbon buildings refurbishment--A Hierarchical pathway," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 15(6), pages 3229-3236, August.
  8. Agnar Sandmo, 1999. "Asymmetric Information and Public Economics: The Mirrlees-Vickrey Nobel Prize," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(1), pages 165-180, Winter.
  9. Natarajan, Sukumar & Levermore, Geoffrey J., 2007. "Predicting future UK housing stock and carbon emissions," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(11), pages 5719-5727, November.
  10. Wright, Andrew, 2008. "What is the relationship between built form and energy use in dwellings?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(12), pages 4544-4547, December.
  11. Yun, Geun Young & Steemers, Koen, 2011. "Behavioural, physical and socio-economic factors in household cooling energy consumption," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 88(6), pages 2191-2200, June.
  12. Amecke, Hermann, 2011. "The Effectiveness of Energy Performance Certificates - Evidence from Germany," EconStor Research Reports 65874, ZBW - German National Library of Economics.
  13. Kannan, Ramachandran & Strachan, Neil, 2009. "Modelling the UK residential energy sector under long-term decarbonisation scenarios: Comparison between energy systems and sectoral modelling approaches," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 86(4), pages 416-428, April.
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