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CarbonBuzz awarded three-year grant from the Technology Strategy Board


27 July 2010

Press office contact:

Mina Vadon
T: +44 (0)207 307 3761
E: mina.vadon@riba.org

CarbonBuzz, the architectural and building services engineering community’s carbon management scheme that provides an online platform to benchmark and track project energy use from design to operation, has been awarded a three-year match funding grant from the Technology Strategy Board under the Design & Decision tools competition. The £750,000 total project cost will cover the development of the platform into an ‘authoritative’ database for CO2 emissions of buildings in the UK and abroad.

Project partners funding over 50% of the project include the RIBA, CIBSE, BRE, Aedas, FCB Studios, AECOM, Davis Langdon, Autodesk and XCO2 Energy. The academic partner, University College London Energy Institute, will be auditing the database and revising the data structure. Aedas, the originators of CarbonBuzz, will be coordinating the input of the partners as well as client and operator steering groups. The project is supported by CABE, the Carbon Trust and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

UK buildings represent some 45% of the UK’s total CO2 emissions. Lack of real world data is a major barrier to carbon reduction. In hosting such data and communicating trends in the database, CarbonBuzz will provide much needed evidence to support policy as well as design and portfolio decisions.

Judit Kimpian, Aedas’ Head of Sustainability and Advanced Modelling and CarbonBuzz’s Project Leader, said:

“With the introduction of multiple readings and capturing actions that lead to changes in energy use over time, users will be able to track changes in a building’s energy consumption against contributing factors from acquisition all the way to end of life. Future updates will allow design predictions to be uploaded directly from mainstream analysis software and organisations will be able to benchmark their portfolios interactively and manage CO2 savings online.  An improved user interface will highlight discrepancies between forecast and actual CO2 emissions and the scale of occupant impact on energy use.”

CarbonBuzz will provide anonymised case studies, documented to industry standards, along with reports on real life trends in the energy consumption of buildings for all major building sectors. It also enables a practice to publish their successes as part of the RIBA’s Carbon Conscious Practice Scheme, the first incentive to promote the value of attributable data in the public domain. The scheme will recognise those electing to publish energy use data through the CarbonBuzz site as a ‘Carbon Conscious Practice’.

Notes to editors

1. Background

CarbonBuzz is the result of joined-up thinking between architects, engineers, professional bodies, policy makers and academics to improve the awareness of CO2 emissions from buildings amongst those who play a major role in their design, refurbishment and construction. www.carbonbuzz.org currently enables users to benchmark and track project energy use from design to operation, for major construction sectors, through a visually engaging online interface. It encourages users to share emissions data in the public domain and compare forecast and actual energy use against CIBSE benchmarks as well as live data from projects entered anonymously.

Research by consortium partners in 2008 found that over 90% of architects, engineers and portfolio managers questioned had no awareness of the scale of CO2 emissions attributed to different building types, nor the key contributing factors to these emissions or the actual effectiveness of design measures employed. Since the launch of the alpha version of the platform last year, CarbonBuzz has attracted over 180 member organisations and over 150 projects from architectural and engineering practices of all sizes.

CarbonBuzz provides a robust foundation for comparing energy use and CO2 emissions from different measurement and reporting standards spanning from acquisition to operation: Part L, Energy Performance Certificates (DECs), Display Energy Certificates (DECs), CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme, Carbon Trust Standard. The launch of UK CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme will present yet another carbon-saving calculation standard alongside Energy Performance Certificates, Part L, the ‘Merton Rule’ and Display Energy Certificates.Yet CarbonBuzz will remain the only platform that bridges the gap between these reporting standards and allows the comparison of forecast and actual energy use side by side. From April 2011, around 20,000 large public and private sector organisations will be involved at some level in Carbon Reporting through the UK CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme. The existence of benchmark data via CarbonBuzz will contribute to the evaluation of carbon reduction efforts not just as % savings but in real terms.

2. CarbonBuzz Consortium Partners

Aedas Architects, the originators of the CarbonBuzz concept, are one of the world’s largest architectural practices and are the project leaders/managers of CarbonBuzz, nominated for the last three years for major sustainability awards (Architects’ Journal/AJ100, UK Green Building Council).

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is the professional body for the UK architectural profession. RIBA will provide the dissemination and promotion across the architectural profession as well as the Carbon Conscious Practice framework and recognition.

The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) is the UK institution for building services engineering, setting the criteria for best practice in the profession. CIBSE provides the project with benchmarks and expertise, as well as the link to the CIBSE Low Carbon Consultant Scheme.

Building Research Establishment (BRE) is the UK’s leading Research and Technology Organisation (RTO) for the built environment in its broadest context with extensive experience in construction materials, energy and life cycle assessment models, low impact building design and construction. BRE provides the physical database and software for the project and are responsible for carrying out the technical maintenance and hosting of the CarbonBuzz website.

University College London (UCL) Energy Institute has a particular focus on the area of energy-demand reduction, designed to speed the transition to a low-energy, low-carbon economy. UCL will be acting as the auditor of the project providing regulatory and quality assurance functions and ensuring robustness of data.

XCO2 Energy is a specialist low-carbon consultancy for the built environment working in the UK and internationally.

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCB Studios) is an architectural practice with a reputation for sustainable design and innovation, underpinned by rigorous research.

AECOM provides technical professional services within the infrastructure, environmental, and facilities markets.

XCO2 Energy, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and AECOM will provide sustainability expertise to the project.  

Davis Langdon are global construction consultants and will be providing support to Aedas in the financial management and programming of the project.

Autodesk is a world leader in design and engineering software and will develop with BRE the generic software API that will allow Autodesk and other analysis and portfolio management packages and smart meters to link directly to CarbonBuzz.

3. The Technology Strategy Board is a business-led executive non-departmental public body, established by the government.  Its role is to promote and support research into, and development and exploitation of, technology and innovation for the benefit of UK business, in order to increase economic growth and improve the quality of life.  It is sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).  For further information please visit www.innovateuk.org



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