Tag Archives: NZEB


Tom Ascough, Director, Symphony Energy.

There continues to exist a grey area between the consultant’s design aspirations and the final built product. Most importantly, whatever about the consultant and the contractor, neither the client nor the architect recognise this void and consequently there is no budget allocated to bridge it. Besides, it’s difficult to know if a bridging service has been successfully rendered until the building is operating comfortably and energy efficiently.

Without a budget, an optimally-configured installation remains mostly illusive. Neither the consultant nor the contractor can be expected to invest in this space without compensation. In any case, it’s a highly specialist “grey area”.

It needs to blend the consultant’s concept creativity, practical installation knowledge and building automation programming into a single service offering. Our experience is that clients will only take this seriously if they are assured they will benefit from energy savings. If they can get their heads around the concept of an EPC (Energy Performance Contract), then they know they are guaranteed the savings, or at least a risk-free attempt, at getting them.

Perhaps we’ve asked too much from installation contractors in the past by pressing them to meet us half-way through the “grey area” in order to salvage a modicum of the lost energy performance buried in the finer operational set-up of buildings’ M&E systems. To spare everyone the pain, we widened the remit of our consultancy practice to bridge the gap between concept and competition.

Through EPC Contractor Symphony Energy, we forged a new EPC offering that guarantees a sizeable energy saving release from  existing building M&E systems. This idea has been tested and has proven highly-effective on several projects. Savings of 50% are typical, although a number of projects have the energy dial crossing the 70% and 80% savings thresholds. So, before subjecting owners of existing building stock to high retrofit costs in an effort to play catch-up towards NZEB, first explore what can be done to get a deep retrofit effect without needing a deep retrofit budget.

Consultants working on new projects need not wait until their designs are struggling to deliver the desired energy performance in reality. NZEB ought to be more a concern for clients than their project teams. The pragmatic approach for everyone’s benefit is to ensure the client allocates room in the project budget to better achieve the desired energy performance at, and post, completion. This provides a high level of assurance that NZEB levels are achieved, and perhaps exceeded, for new projects. By having an EPC contractor involved in the project from the early design stages, the crucial link between concept and actual energy performance is, quite literally, guaranteed.

The stakes are high for anyone offering an EPC as the client can only win, but the provider may take a loss, perhaps a heavy loss. To mitigate risk, we had to be confident in our predicted engineering solution outcomes. We also needed to have integral involvement in developing control algorithms that precisely matched the engineering concepts under every conceivable operating scenario. We needed to be proficient in coding so we could at least recognise programming issues and live test the code to iron out any bugs that would stifle the intended outcome.

Ultimately, we found ourselves searching the global market for high-grade PLC/BEMS equipment that is built on open systems architecture so it can act as a systems integration point with all other BMS systems, and with practically all other open protocols associated with M&E equipment.

Such protocols range from BACnet, Modbus, Lonworks to OPC, Dali, KNX, EnOcean and mBus. Using Loytec equipment, we’ve been able to integrate existing BMS and other M&E equipment to provide a single composite operating platform. With code programming in IEC61131-3 and other standard web software, it’s been possible to deliver exactly the engineering solution from concept to completion.

A tailored smartphone app is developed for each building or site. This empowers the facilities and maintenance team with good visibility into the operation of their buildings and the ability to swiftly intervene where necessary. The app also enables manual control over various individual items of equipment, making maintenance procedures more efficient.

Our quest to conquer the energy gap in the “grey zone” has yielded some high-value operational and management benefits over and beyond the deep energy savings. The broader integration of the M&E systems data with a wider array of IIoT data and machine-learning enhances the automated identification of the control system’s dynamic, integrated, optimum performance points.

Herein lies the next generation of energy savings that are key to nailing NZEB targets and beyond. Now, all of this diverse data is gathered together with a suite of powerful analytical tools on a cloud platform. Apart from providing wider market access to these now-proven extraordinary energy savings capabilities, this empowers a major advancement for energy, facilities and maintenance management proficiency.

The cloud platform also makes it easier to identify and assess a near endless pipeline of future energy-saving measures, thereby serving to deliver upon the continuous improvement requirements of ISO50001 more effortlessly.

The MEP Value Equation

David Hughes (MSCSI, MRICS, MAPM),
is a qualified mechanical engineer,
chartered quantity surveyor and
has 20 years experience in building
services (MEP) cost management.

Building services (MEP) are evolving at quite a pace, driven by continuous technological innovation, greater regulatory emphasis to improve building energy efficiency, and on-site project challenges. Heat pumps, sophisticated building controls, LED lighting, modular off-site construction, photovoltaics, building information modelling (BIM), Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Building Energy Rating (BER) and Nearly Zero Energy Building Standard (NZEB) are all areas that have now become the new “business as usual”.

Innovations such as smart lighting and the Internet of Things (IoT) are also starting to make an impact so it can be challenging for clients to keep up to date. Many of the above innovations come at a capital cost premium but have the benefit of reduced operation cost. They can also bring additional benefits such as reduced space requirement, increased functionality, reduced CO2 emissions, increased safety, improved quality and construction programme benefits.

The value equation can be loosely defined as Benefit/Cost = Value. It can be challenging to establish value but this is what we at Rose Patrick specialise in. We were recently sub-consulted by a quantity surveying firm to carry out an exercise to compare the cost impact of fan-wall air handling units (AHUs) as proposed, versus a traditional single-fan AHU unit on a project at “developed design” stage.

We compared the two systems and how they interfaced with other elements of the building, both in terms of capital cost and over the whole life-cycle of the building. The real cost and benefit could not be fully assessed by comparing the AHU systems in isolation. In this case some of the less obvious impacts of the proposed AHU design solution were:
• Reduced space requirement – the units were half the length of the traditional AHUs so there was a significant cost saving to the build cost associated with GIA reduction to plant rooms;
• Increased point load meaning additional local structural load;
• Reduced electrical load – reduced electrical infrastructure (all plant had back generation – N+1 facility);
• Reduced operational and maintenance cost;
• Built-in redundancy via modular/ multiple-fan construction (if one out of the nine fans broke down the AHU could still operate at 90%+ capacity);
• Quieter operation, lower vibration. Once all the “externalities” were taken into consideration, we were able to substantiate that the proposed AHU solution, even on a capital cost only comparison, added more value to the project than the alternative It also had a significantly lower payback period over its life-cycle.

The new Irish Government forms of contract requiring the quantity surveyor (QS) to manage MEP cost to relying on the consultant engineer. We see this trend emerging in the private sector also. Consequently, we provide an independent specialist MEP cost management service that can fall between the two stools of the quantity surveyor (QS) and the MEP consultant engineer.

Our team provides support to:
• Professional quantity surveying firms who may not have the technical capability, or simply need
additional MEP QS capacity on an ad hoc basis;
• Consultant engineers who have been commissioned to take on the MEP cost management;
• MEP contractors with take-offs, pricing tenders and other commercial services;
• Data centre and pharmaceutical sector clients with commercial management where construction projects typically have a high MEP element (70%+).

The Rose Patrick team concentrates solely on MEP cost management, understands the technical information being reviewed, and has the experience to interrogate it. This is vitally important as it allows for a high-level root and branch logic check of each system prior to the detail measure. This ensures that any obvious inadvertent design omissions or errors can be flagged (mitigating costly post-contract variations). The quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) process applied acts as a de facto second layer of QA/QC on the design, prior to it going to tender.

There have been some huge developments in software used within the construction industry over the last five years and Rose Patrick’s cost estimating platform, CostX, allows the team to perform accurate and efficient measurement from 2D drawings. It also means that quantities from BIM or 3D models can be automatically generated using one of the most advanced electronic take-off systems available on the market. The platform also features powerful spreadsheet-based workbooks that are live-linked to the drawings in question, giving full traceability.

Typically, Rose Patrick benchmarks design, as well as cost, to build an intelligent MEP knowledge database. This allows the team to develop informed MEP cost models at a very early stage in the project cycle. Intelligence is the application of knowledge. See how Rose Patrick applies this principle at www.rosepatrick.ie.

NZEB and Part L Seminar

CIBSE Ireland will host an evening seminar on NZEB and the revised Part L of the Building Regulations at Engineers Ireland, 22 Clyde Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 on Tuesday, 29 May next at 6pm. The format for the occasion will comprise a brief welcome and introduction by Paul Martin, CIBSE Ireland Chair, and two presentations, one each from Orla Coyle and Eoin Doohan.

Orla is Programme Manager, SEAI – Near Zero Energy Buildings & High Performance Retrofit, and is a chartered engineer with CIBSE. She recently joined SEAI in this new position but has worked for over 20 years in the energy performance of buildings both in Ireland and Australia. As an independent consultant prior to taking up this position Orla was involved the environmental, energy and sustainable assessment of both new and existing buildings.

Eoin (BE CEng MCIBSE) is Principal Mechanical Engineer at AECOM in Dublin and is an expert in designing new-build and retrofit NZEB solutions for commercial and Industrial buildings. He is a chartered engineer with CIBSE and has given talks on NZEB throughout the country.

This promises to be a very information evening as the format will also include an extensive Q&A session with the sharing of views and opinions also being encouraged.

Visit www.cibseireland.org for more information