Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

New assessments for sustainable buildings

Sustainable architecture is pivotal for ensuring our coexistence with nature and within our communities. Often, however, buildings turn out not to be as sustainable as initially designed due to occupants’ lack of understanding of systems and maintenance.
New assessments for sustainable buildings
The EU-funded BUPESA (Building Performance Evaluation for Sustainable Architecture) project developed new methods to compare original design intentions of housing regeneration and development with the actual outcomes in relation to construction and use. Specifically, it sought to assess the usability of the buildings with respect to heating, ventilation, lighting, acoustics, and internal appliances vis-à-vis the well-being and behaviour of the occupants. Based on this, it worked on articulating recommendations for future design while keeping all these considerations in mind.

To achieve its aims the project evaluated two sustainable housing projects in Leeds, UK. One of these is LILAC, the country’s first ecological affordable co-housing project, and the second is Saxton, an award-winning regeneration of social housing apartments. The evaluation revealed a need for more careful design in mechanical ventilation systems and thermal bridging. It also found evidence of overheating of homes in summer, underlining differences in seasonal heating needs between upper and lower floors.

In this context the project team developed a social learning tool that enables communities to lower energy and water use by comparing consumption among themselves within the development. The assessment of these two projects underlined a lack of understanding in environmental controls and a need for more custom training on systems. This could be remedied through closed Social Media forums such as Facebook groups for users to widen their understanding of their home and jointly develop solutions.

In addition BUPESA developed a usability tool to assess the effectiveness of each control interface or ‘touch points’ that people come into direct contact with in a home. Assessments in this area revealed major differences in skills and abilities on using controls, a need to simplify design and installation of key control systems, and a necessity for enhanced guidance in maintenance and training.

Overall the project’s solutions support users in monitoring and improving performance, as well as upgrading buildings and advancing design, maintenance and procurement in the industry. They also help occupants manage energy and water in their home more easily, furthering their well-being, comfort and contribution to sustainability.

The project’s findings have been widely disseminated, informing policy thinking in the EU and specifically in the UK. They stand to support policymakers, industry, academics and civil organisations in developing and regulating architecture and related housing products.

Related information


Sustainable architecture, BUPESPA, building performance, overheating, environmental controls
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