Effectiveness of design codes for life cycle energy optimisation
The built environment is materially inefficient, with structural material wastage in the order of 50% being common. As operational energy consumption in buildings falls, due to continued tightening of regulations and improvements in the efficiency of energy generation and distribution, present inefficiencies in embodied energy use become increasingly significant in the calculation of whole life energy use. The status quo cannot continue if we are to meet carbon emissions reduction targets. We must now tackle embodied energy as vigorously as we have tackled operational energy in buildings in the past.Current design methods are poorly suited to controlling material inefficiency in design, which arises as a risk mitigation strategy against unknown loads and uncertain human responses to these loads. Prescriptive codes are intended to result in buildings capable of providing certain levels of performance. These performance levels are often based on small tests, and the actual performance of individual building designs is rarely fully assessed after construction. A new approach is required to drive the minimisation of embodied energy (lightweighting) through the collection of performance data on both structures and their occupants.This paper uses an industry facing survey to explore for the first time the potential use of performance measurement to create new drivers for lighter and more usable designs. The use of ubiquitous structural, human, and environmental sensing, combined with automated data fusion, data interpretation, and knowledge generation is now required to ensure that future generations of building designs are lightweight, lower-carbon, cheaper, and healthier.