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Topic Title: The Savoy Place Upgrade and Energy Efficiency
Topic Summary: You know a project is going to fail when the people involved refuse to answer simple questions!
Created On: 14 January 2013 12:18 PM
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 14 January 2013 12:18 PM
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jarathoon

Posts: 1032
Joined: 05 September 2004

I ask the following questions

Therefore in regards to the Savoy place upgrade, can you let me know:

1. Can the membership obtain access to the historic energy consumption data of the Savoy Place building? In what form is it available?
2. Can the membership obtain access to the historic room occupation data of the Savoy Place building? In what form is it available?
3. Do you keep a maintenance log that records time periods when heating and air conditioning systems have failed? Are they available for inspection?
4. Is there any historic temperature data for the building available internal/external? In what form is it available?
5. Is it possible to list rooms in terms of expected energy consumption and type and use some temperature logging devices to record day night variations, and differences between when a particular room is unused or used to near maximum capacity? Vertical temperature profiles would be interesting especially in the large lecture theatre?
6. If the current systems are not working or fail where do building workers and visitors notice the problem most?
7. Will the ventilation systems be changing radically e.g. from larger ducts with slow moving air volumes to small ducts with fact moving air (and perhaps noisier fans systems)?


The Answer I got

"Thank you for your recent communication and interest regarding the Savoy Place refurbishment. I do hope you found the presentation interesting and had the opportunity to discuss your queries with our consultants MTT and BRE on energy efficiency aspects.

The planned new HVAC system will be managed by a modern BMS system that will allow the IET to run off data on energy consumption, room occupation data, log failures and provide members and guests with a much improved experience than what we can provide today. We have acoustic engineers consulting as part of the design team.

You have asked for a number of items of historic data that you feel would be of interest to the members. Can I recommend that this information come from and be part of the work undertaken by MTT and BRE who will present all of the building information available and relevant to our BREEAM application. I would see this being more of benefit to the membership as it will present the information more roundly. The Savoy Place project has its own webpage on the IET main website where this information can be found by the members.

I would like to thank you for your interest and look forward to your visiting the new building in the future."


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James Arathoon
 14 January 2013 12:19 PM
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jarathoon

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My response:

You must bear in mind that most of the membership of the IET are not building services experts. I am just trying to make sure you will have the appropriate information to hand in order to be able to communicate what you are doing in language that all engineers can understand, explicit and clear before and after comparisons, particularly in terms of energy usage.

It may be that there is no money to significantly upgrade the energy efficiency of the building and that ultimately that is a board and membership decision. Whatever the maximum budget for energy savings (somewhere between 5%-10% of the budget perhaps) I want to see some more clarity in how we will determine their effect and thus their value for money, compared with not doing anything at all or buying the highest specification solution available (hopefully the solution chosen should compare well with both these extreme alternatives in terms of cost benefit).

My original questions seem to have got lost. They are:

Therefore in regards to the Savoy place upgrade, can you let me know:

1. Can the membership obtain access to the historic energy consumption data of the Savoy Place building? In what form is it available?
2. Can the membership obtain access to the historic room occupation data of the Savoy Place building? In what form is it available?
3. Do you keep a maintenance log that records time periods when heating and air conditioning systems have failed? Are they available for inspection?
4. Is there any historic temperature data for the building available internal/external? In what form is it available?
5. Is it possible to list rooms in terms of expected energy consumption and type and use some temperature logging devices to record day night variations, and differences between when a particular room is unused or used to near maximum capacity? Vertical temperature profiles would be interesting especially in the large lecture theatre?
6. If the current systems are not working or fail where do building workers and visitors notice the problem most?
7. Will the ventilation systems be changing radically e.g. from larger ducts with slow moving air volumes to small ducts with fact moving air (and perhaps noisier fans systems)?

I would expect if the board choose not to publicly release the historic data listed above arrangements should be in place that it is not lost and placed safely in the IET archives with a release date attached.

Now in the recent upgrade presentations I have been dismayed to learn that there is no ongoing prediction or after works assessment of whether or not the energy consumption of the building goes down or up following the Savoy Place upgrade.
This lack of clarity on this is unacceptable as far as I am concerned.

Now I know that comparisons of new and old can be difficult, but even with substantial change they are not impossible, and I told your consultants at least one sensible way it could be done.

In general I believe the membership will want to see a before and after building energy consumption analysis with foot notes to explain what functionality we are getting within our new energy budget. If more energy is required to run the new building, the main reasons for this should be clearly outlined. For example it could be that the existing air conditioning doesn't work for long periods (sometimes without people noticing) and that this leads to default energy savings over the new building - it is important that such things are communicated to the membership.

Therefore I suggest you either task one of the project team to identify and list the historic energy consumption data so that it can be saved for posterity and sent to the IET archives at the appropriate point in time, or alternatively if you have not got the resources available I will come in and do the job.


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James Arathoon
 14 January 2013 12:25 PM
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jarathoon

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What is BREEAM?

http://www.breeam.org/about.jsp?id=66

Bream is an assessment method. I have know idea what this means. Is it a panacea for everything bad in the world?

Some of the buildings that used it like the Welsh Assembly were ran ridiculously over budget. Is this typical! No data.












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James Arathoon
 14 January 2013 12:50 PM
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jarathoon

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Forced Ventilation vs Natural Ventilation

What are the building services industry "corrupt practices" which direct clients to unreliable, noisy and expensive to maintain forced ventilation systems when simpler natural venilation systems would be better for their needs?


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James Arathoon
 14 January 2013 12:59 PM
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jarathoon

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I recommend the Savoy Place Project team either start talking "English" in a way that the general engineering membership of the IET can understand or all resign their positions with immediate effect, and we start again with a new team that can talk English.

Where can I find a summary of the ethical standards that lie at the heart of building services engineering community vision for Britain?

James Arathoon

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James Arathoon
 14 January 2013 01:53 PM
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drhirst

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James,
This is a bit OTT, and an only partially justified criticism of the Building Services engineering business. See CIBSE for professional expertise.
Yes, natural ventilation is nice in spring and autumn, so you can open windows, and enjoy the sun and fresh air. Most of our houses have lots of it, often to ensure the internal air does not get too humid, and so condensation can evaporate again. Indeed, we have lots of ways, like air bricks and ventilation gaps in windows, of letting air (and heat) leak into and out of our homes.
But this is hugely energy intensive when it is cold, and not much value when it is hot. So some sort of forced ventilation through airtight spaces can be by far the most efficient way of keeping a building at comfortable temperatures without wasteful use of heating and cooling.
It is demanding of engineering and design expertise, as well as a supply chain and knowledgeable skilled competent tradesmen . Sadly lacking in this country. See Passivhaus for how it can be done. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive_house

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David Hirst
 14 January 2013 02:10 PM
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acsinuk

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Hi James
Probably in the building regs. If the office of the deputy PM has simplified them, like he did with electric regs that would be best place to look. Should be able to read up on insulation of roof, windows, walls and draughts at a glance so to speak. Don't know why the IET cant compile and publish a single sheet check list for its members, appendixing the technical details in the back.
Historical data on electricity and gas bills must be available at Savoy Place as it needs to declare these expenses to the Charities commission. In fact, if you compare the energy usage before and after the rehab it will be very interesting to see what the savings are. Presumably, they will put solar water heaters on the roof as well as improving the thermal lagging.
 14 January 2013 03:42 PM
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jarathoon

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David,

No this is not over the top (OTT), it is fair comment.

At one IET meeting I attended recently, I had one of the Savoy Place building consultants on the verge of a nervous breakdown. All I did was ask some pertinent questions, that any outsider to the profession might ask. I asked the organisers if I was going OTT, and the reply came back no.

[Note: There are many sources of nervous breakdowns: my ones came from being bombarded by nonsense on an Imperial College/UCL/Wellcome Trust MSc history of science course, which included professors who knew virtually nothing about engineering, economics or the real world; the other major source of breakdown is to be told a basic truth that completely undermines your previous intellectual world view. Nervous breakdowns in this second sense are unavoidable and perhaps even essential if the human race is to progress any further.]

There appear to be elements within the building services community that organise themselves as a clique for selling the latest expensive and over complex building services gadgets. I have absolutely no respect for this agenda.

From the Savoy Place Refurbishment team I would very much like to see a little more evidence of the ability to talk in plain language from the perspective of the client and existing and future building users.

The BREEAM method appears to be actively encouraging engineers not to communicate in English, but to communicate in acronyms. I don't think it is unreasonable to ask building services engineers to talk in English and am simply pointing this out with clarity.

I have been in so many bad modern buildings over the years where the air condioning has failed; or I am sitting under a noisy unit with cold air rushing down my neck; or I am sitting in a room with too much glass that overheats quickly as soon as the sun shines.

If the membership does not ask clear and pertinent questions of the design team, we will just end up with the project leaders hiding their incompetence in plain sight, and eventually a failed renovation project that pulls the reputation of the institution down with it.

James Arathoon

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James Arathoon
 14 January 2013 06:02 PM
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OMS

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Originally posted by: jarathoon

What is BREEAM?

http://www.breeam.org/about.jsp?id=66



Bream is an assessment method. I have know idea what this means. Is it a panacea for everything bad in the world?

Some of the buildings that used it like the Welsh Assembly were ran ridiculously over budget. Is this typical! No data.


I suggest you read a little deeper James - there is absolutely plenty of data available.

Its an environmental assessment method to be accurate. Simplistic yes, but the factors involving comfort and health in buildings are complex. So a degree of simplicity that allows accurate comparisons betweeen similar building types is actually beneficial.

Perhaps a little more reading up and around the subject would be a good idea.

Regards

OMS

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Failure is always an option
 14 January 2013 06:14 PM
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OMS

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Originally posted by: jarathoon

Forced Ventilation vs Natural Ventilation

What are the building services industry "corrupt practices" which direct clients to unreliable, noisy and expensive to maintain forced ventilation systems when simpler natural venilation systems would be better for their needs?


Have you ever stood outside Savoy House on a busy day - the traffic noise is horrendous - and you think that not opening the windows is a corrupt practice.

Essentially, the internal environment is going to be a balance of competing criteria - a good building services engineer will work with the architect to reach the optimum design solution based on those criteria.

There appear to be elements within the building services community that organise themselves as a clique for selling the latest expensive and over complex building services gadgets. I have absolutely no respect for this agenda.


Really ? - in my experience, it's often client driven criteria that result in over complex design solutions - the building services team is simply responding to what is usually risk transfer from the client. When a client mandates say a requirement for a minimum of 10% renewable generation on site and stipulates all internal spaces to be 23C +/- 1C when it's 32C outside (which only ever happens for about 4 hours in August) then what do you expect ?

Right - which of the acronyms are you struggling with ?

Regards

OMS

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Failure is always an option
 14 January 2013 06:27 PM
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jarathoon

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It appears that BREEAM Non-Domestic Refurbishment is a work in progress

http://www.breeam.org/page.jsp?id=381

So not only do I not know what it means no one else does either (yet)

James Arathoon

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James Arathoon
 14 January 2013 06:45 PM
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jarathoon

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OMS,

I find it remakablely impressive that building services engineers can determine the optimum solution to refurbishment building design without exploring and presenting the existing empirical data on historical building energy consumption and usage.

I am told Savoy Place generally needs to get rid of net excess energy. The engineers seems to "know" this without analysing any data or making exploratory measurments. Should I accept the letters after their name as evidence that they can dispense with all emirical evidence in support of their contentions.

Can you please tell me how building services engineers work without gathering empirical evidence for "complex" building upgrade work?

James Arathoon

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James Arathoon
 14 January 2013 07:09 PM
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jarathoon

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OMS,

When I ask for the data to look into how the Savoy Place building is working at the moment, I get an unintelligible response, which is basically "Trust us we know how to do this, we have a catch all method with an acronym"

I am told that all the analyses on energy efficiency and sustainability must done be via some notional building that no one will ever see or use, just because it makes the software easy.

Well I am not interested. I don't want to visit or think about a notional building, I want to think comparatively between the old and the new building designs. Apparently this is beyond the building services profession, they want to present data in ways people find difficult to engage with instead.

I want to know what happens now in the real building before the refurbishment compared to what will happen in the new building post refurbishment. The consultants tell me standard building services software design suites do not allow this, so tough.

James Arathoon

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James Arathoon
 14 January 2013 07:17 PM
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jarathoon

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OMS,

I am willing to read which ever Building Services documentments you think will intoctrinate me in the ways of the profession. Documents that explain why the clients are the real reason why there are so many noisy and unreliable heating and ventilation systems installed in our buildings.

Is it the clients who want too much glass or the architects?

Please send me the references, I will order them through the Savoy Place library.

James Arathoon



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James Arathoon
 15 January 2013 08:57 AM
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OMS

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Originally posted by: jarathoon

It appears that BREEAM Non-Domestic Refurbishment is a work in progress



http://www.breeam.org/page.jsp?id=381



So not only do I not know what it means no one else does either (yet)

James Arathoon


BREEAM is simply an auditable process that examines a number of issues in buildings in terms of compliance. You may know nothing about it, but plenty of people use it or ar involved in it on a daily basis - most public sector projects use a mandated BREEAM process as part of public sector funding rules. Equally, the private sector uses it as a demonstation of a particular buildings environmental credentials.

It's an acronym for Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method. It covers a variety of building types at different stages of lifecycle or may be bespoke for a particular building.

As I suggesetd, read a bit further, all you need to know is freely available - it's only the process itself that's undertaken by trained and licenced assessors or accredited professionals.

To get a bit of context, you might also want to look into LEED and Greenstar - similar methodologies adopetd in other parts of the world.

The adopted scheme is non domestic refurbishment because that's what it is - a refurbishment of a non dom building.

Regards

OMS

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Failure is always an option
 15 January 2013 09:14 AM
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OMS

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Originally posted by: jarathoon

OMS,

I find it remakablely impressive that building services engineers can determine the optimum solution to refurbishment building design without exploring and presenting the existing empirical data on historical building energy consumption and usage.

Do you ? - simple observation of the use of the space and methods of construction can tell you a lot without measured data. Buildings are buildings and in any geopgraphical location, external weather patterns, diurnal cycles etc are pretty similar and pretty predictable. Simple tabulated data will tell you, for example, what the solar radiation to a given surface at any one time - we do know (or at least expect) the sun to be in the same place at the same time - and the building probably isn't moving.

I am told Savoy Place generally needs to get rid of net excess energy. The engineers seems to "know" this without analysing any data or making exploratory measurments. Should I accept the letters after their name as evidence that they can dispense with all emirical evidence in support of their contentions.

Not a bad idea is it - reducing energy consumption is always a good thing. You can accept what you like in terms of qualification etc - the simple fact is that the engineers involved are working withing peretty well understood parameters and will be drawing on empirical evidence collected over many years from such sources as CIBSE or ASHRAE. Given the loaction of Savoy House and an understanding of the occupancy density and thermal response of the structure it's pretty easy to predict what's going to be required in terms of plant and equipment based on any number of similar buildings. Keep in mind the engineers will probably be focused on just a couple of "design day" conditions - everything in between being dealt with by controls operating most probably on proportional, integral and derivative feedback loops

Can you please tell me how building services engineers work without gathering empirical evidence for "complex" building upgrade work?

Complex - hardly James. It's a simple design for human comfort - there will always be a % of people dissatified. As for empirical evidence, well again, simple observation of the building, record drawings and a huge amount of published data(CIBSE, ASHRAE etc) would give an engineer everything needed. Buildings are remarkably similar when you look at them, as are the requirements for human comfort.


James Arathoon


I may be wrong here James but perhaps you need to think about this in terms of engineers and scientists.

Given a similar task, it's quite probable the scientist would expend the fee collecting data and analysing it to a level that is totally pointless. After a year the scientist would tell you more research is required and can more funding be made available please.

The engineer will take a vast body of published data, tailor it to the circumstances, understand the implications of using aggregated data in a specific application, adopt realistic margins, finish the design on time and move on to the next job.

It's a semi public building getting a refresh - there will be many thousands just like it withing spitting distance of Savoy House.

Regards

OMS

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Failure is always an option
 15 January 2013 09:34 AM
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OMS

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Originally posted by: jarathoon

OMS,

When I ask for the data to look into how the Savoy Place building is working at the moment, I get an unintelligible response, which is basically "Trust us we know how to do this, we have a catch all method with an acronym"

Nope - I think you've misunderstood what BREEAM is aimed at, how the process works and that it has marginal bearing on the design process


I am told that all the analyses on energy efficiency and sustainability must done be via some notional building that no one will ever see or use, just because it makes the software easy.

Again, I think you misunderstand the building regulations regarding the implemantation of the energy performance of buildings directive (ie the simplified building energy model (SBEM). The software is standard because it's intended to capture information on the building type in order to achieve a comparable aset rating. It compares whats being done against a similar notional building and derives an asset rating that allows comparison with other buildings.

The resultant energy performance certificate is publicly available if you wish to see it.



Well I am not interested. I don't want to visit or think about a notional building, I want to think comparatively between the old and the new building designs. Apparently this is beyond the building services profession, they want to present data in ways people find difficult to engage with instead.

Well essentially, the display energy certificate will give you a broad brush comparison. If you want to think comparatively then you appear to assume that IET have recorded all the parameters you want to compare and contrast over time and that the new installation will also have significant and probably unwarranted monitoring in place.

I want to know what happens now in the real building before the refurbishment compared to what will happen in the new building post refurbishment. The consultants tell me standard building services software design suites do not allow this, so tough.

You mentioned thermal gradients in rooms as an example - when was the last time you noticed a stacked array of sensors in Savoy house - and what do you want to measure - radiant temperature, air temperature - some derived resultant or comfort temperature. Would you expect to also need humidity and air velocity to make those comparisons.

People know what happens in the building at the moment - up to a point - and they'll know what happens for the refurb - up to a point. In simple terms, human comfort is complex - the cost of that kind of data collection exercise and the on going monitoring of that data is simply too cost prohibitive and it also has little value anyway. Why would it be so important to you to know that on 1st September 2008 at 15.32.17 the temperature in the lecture room was 24.48C and that the design team have predicted it to be 22C +/- 1C on the same data and time in 2013.

It's a completely pointless exercise don't you think. There is plenty of thermal modelling software that could get you close to the reality in a space - but for sure the building services team won't be using that - at least not unless IET are throwing a huge fee at them. They are simply working within the building regulations framework - ie demonstrating they are not using more fuel or power in the design than is reasonable and confirming that via standard software using empirical profiles.

As I said - scientist and engineer - very often they have different focus




James Arathoon


Regards

OMS

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Failure is always an option
 15 January 2013 09:53 AM
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OMS

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Originally posted by: jarathoon

OMS,

I am willing to read which ever Building Services documentments you think will intoctrinate me in the ways of the profession. Documents that explain why the clients are the real reason why there are so many noisy and unreliable heating and ventilation systems installed in our buildings.

Well perhaps start with a browse trough the CIBSE or ASHRAE sites - take a look at the building servivces journal and also through the huge amount of peer reviewed documents published by CIBSE etc.

I think you also missed my point - the issues of over engineered systems driven by clients and those of systems that are either designed down to minimum cost and then not maintained by clients are slightly different but also linked.

two examples

I designed systems for a police client - when we pointed out the contradiction between the aspiration of a low impact, lightly serviced building and thier insistence that all internal spaces must achieve 23C +/- 1 C at all times. Suggestions to eliminate much of the cooling by clever architectural design, shading and undertanding that occupants in a period of warm weather would recognise that, dress appropriatly and expect rooms to rise to say 26C for perhaps not more than 50 hours a year wouldn't be unreasonable. Answer - if you don't meet the targets (against an outdoor temp of 32C) you'd better put your PI insurers on notice.

same building several years in - public sector finance has impacted on the building FM - the cooling systems are now dealt with on a reactive rather than preventative basis - filters are dirty, condense is getting carried over, belts and pully are now wearing out, ductwork is filthy, light fittings now have lamps of several hues in the same room.

Basically, the client can't afford to operate the monster they forced the design team to provide.

This is the building industry James - forget Latham and Egan - it operates on the worst practices of the bazaar



Is it the clients who want too much glass or the architects?

In may cases it could be either - don't forget the kudos that comes from having a south facing floor to ceiling glass facade if this is your headquarters building - particularly if your clients are treated to an icy blast of 20C air on entry - it says look at us - aren't we really successful and we want everyone to know it.

There is probably a building services guy somewhere, pointing out that the facade is goint to result in 1MW of cooling and being told to get stuffed - it's the clients vision, shrugging shoulders and starting work ona rooftoop chiller and a four pipe fan coil system



Please send me the references, I will order them through the Savoy Place library.

I'm sure you can find them if you want James - think of it as a journey


James Arathoon


Regards

OMS

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Failure is always an option
 15 January 2013 01:00 PM
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jarathoon

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Don't get me going on Display Energy Certificates

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D...ay_Energy_Certificate

When we go and buy a fridge we get wall to wall A's and A+'s its the most useless measurement scale ever invented by man.

Ask for something meaningful like real data and everyone goes pale.

No apparently if Savoy Place hasn't been recording their energy data and that is the real reason for going quiet on me, then we as an institution are in line for fines from the local authority. Well if the data doesn't exist they should own up and pay the fines with grace rather than wasting my time not talking English.

None of what you write convinces me that the Savoy Place Refurbishment Team know what they are doing. They certainly can't communicate to me any sense that they know what they are doing.

I don't want measurement probes in place as part of the installation that would be ridiculous. I just want to see real before and after data to monitor what these people are doing to the building. This is cheap in hardware but potentially very expensive in reputations. This is why I like the idea.

James Arathoon















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James Arathoon
 15 January 2013 02:42 PM
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OMS

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Is Savoy House open to the public. James ? - do they actually need a DEC - and if not there won't be any fines will there

It's up to you to decide if the refurb team know what they are doing - I suspect strongly they do

Historic energy consumption is probably a simple record of utility bills paid. Future utility bills will give you the post refurb comparison assuming everything else stays equal. Although I suspect a few extra meters will be going in as part of the BMS system

What parameters would you like measured, James - to get this before and after data - and what monitoring would you deploy to determine what these people are doing to the building. Perhaps you and I have different ideas of what is "cheap" when it comes to monitoring building spaces, and you clearly don't want measurement "probes" used - so I'm a bit at a loss as to what you want. Clearly IET have little information related to your initial questions - that's probably quite normal in a vast number of buildings, and most of what you asked for appears quite irrelevant to the design team anyway

regards

OMS

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Failure is always an option
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