SBEM Made Simple

Commercial Energy Assessor, Raj Chall, takes us through Simplified Building Energy Model calculations and why they are important for commercial property owners.

Simplified building energy model (SBEM) calculations are a vital part of commercial development. They’re used to analyse energy consumption levels in almost all commercial buildings, including retail, office, industrial and leisure developments.

Why do they matter? Because they’re part of your building control application. If you’re creating or altering a commercial building with floor space of more than 50sqm, it’ll be subject to regional building regulations. Part of those regulations involve energy efficiency and CO2 emissions.

SBEM calculations predict the energy efficiency and CO2 emissions from your building. If you ‘pass’, your building control application is approved. If you fail, you’ll have to modify, correct or extend works before you get the approval you need.

There are two sets of calculations, one taken before construction or work begins, and one taken after completion. The first set gives you target energy efficiency and emissions levels. The second reads actual levels and compares them with the target.

Put simply, your development won’t pass building control stage if the actual emissions exceed the target emissions. A few simple ideas, implemented right from the planning stage, can help to make sure you meet the targets set by your SBEM, and get your development up and running as quickly as possible. 

 1. Energy efficient lighting

It’s much easier to invest in and install an energy-efficient lighting system in the first place than to have to change it once it’s in place. It’ll not only save energy and reduce emissions, it’ll also help keep running costs down.

2. Good insulation

The less additional heating your development needs, the lower your CO2 emissions will be. Insulation could also help make your building more attractive to tenants by reducing their heating bills.

3. Appropriate air conditioning

Does your development actually need air conditioning? If it does, make sure you get the most appropriate system for its size. Too big and it’ll waste energy that’s not needed, too small and it’ll need to run longer and more often, increasing consumption and CO2.

4. Appropriate heating systems

As with air conditioning, it’s important to get the right heating system in place. It’s also worth considering the installation of a system with a centrally-located timer. That helps with SBEM calculations, but it’s also helpful in achieving a reasonable rating on your energy performance certificate (EPC). That’s especially important in England and Wales, where as of April 2018, landlords won’t be able to lease buildings with low EPC ratings.

5. Effective ventilation

It’s important to maintain air quality, as well as temperature. Good ventilation can help control CO2 levels and maintain a healthy working environment without having an adverse effect on either heating or cooling systems.

These basic measures will apply to most projects. However, your specific development might need more — or less! It’s best to work with an expert energy adviser who specialises in SBEM calculations at the planning stage. Then you’re more likely to create a design that will meet local building control requirements, and get your project live as quickly as possible.

Raj Chall

About the author

Raj Chall is a commercial energy assessor and Section 63 adviser with Scottish Energy Services. Based in Glasgow, the company works with domestic and commercial clients across Scotland.

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