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The University of Southampton

CENV6148 Energy Performance Assessment of Buildings

Module Overview

This module gives an overview of the policy issues, various planning aids and assessment methods available to quantify energy efficiency and sustainability in buildings. Students will be able to use different tools to investigate building energy performance of existing buildings and new building designs as well as to critically assess the results given by the various rating systems. The focus is to create awareness of appropriate forms of energy performance assessment for a given task in order to improve energy efficiency of the UK building stock.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

To be able to assess energy use in domestic and commercial buildings using standard methodologies and develop appropriate interventions to reduce carbon and energy. To have a working knowledge of industry standard tools and methodologies including DEC, EPC, SAP, SBEM, Code for Sustainable Homes, Passivhaus, LEED and BREEAM.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Producing design recommendations for buildings to deliver energy efficiency improvements
  • The energy and sustainability assessment methods and certificates used in the United
  • Kingdom for domestic and commercial buildings. This includes: BREEAM, EPC, DEC, SAP,
  • SBEM and the Code for Sustainable Homes, Passivhaus (newbuild and EnerPHit)
  • The functionality of building performance simulation tools such as TRNSYS
  • The policies, economic and societal issues influencing energy performance assessment of buildings
  • Undertaking Target Emission Rate (TER) calculations using SAP/SBEM for simple buildings.
  • Understanding Part L and its impact on building energy performance.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Link energy policy targets to energy efficiency requirements in buildings
  • Conduct a simple SAP/SBEM assessment
  • Analyse and critically assess the energy and comfort performance of buildings
  • Develop ideas for improving the energy performance of existing buildings
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Problem solving
  • Make appropriate decisions based on judgement.
  • Use assessment methods to support decisions
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Conduct a simple walk through energy performance assessment of a building
  • Construct a basic TRNSYS simulation model
  • Use SAP/SBEM tools available for building performance assessment


The module links legislation with the technical understanding required to demonstrate the compliance of a building design approach. It comprises the following: 1. An overview of the following regulations and assessment tools: BREEAM (BRE Environmental Assessment Method), EPBD (EU Directive on the Energy Performance of Buildings), Part L of the Building Regulations, EPC (Energy Performance Certificates), DEC (Display Energy Certificates), SAP (Standard Assessment Procedure), SBEM (Simplified Building Energy Model), Code for Sustainable Homes, SPEAR (Arup). Pure energy rating systems such as SBEM and SAP will be bridged to more broad sustainability based rating systems such as BREEAM. The students will be given an overview of each tool but the focus will be on building regulation compliance assessment using SBEM, Energy Performance Certificates, Display Energy Certificates (for public buildings) and the Code for Sustainable Homes (for domestic buildings). 2. Building physics, including heating energy requirement calculations for simple buildings using the traditional elemental methods. 3. Valuing of microgeneration / low and zero carbon technologies in carbon calculations (photovoltaics, solar thermal, microwind, ground source and air source heat pumps, micro-CHP, biomass boilers and heating systems). Calculating carbon payback times of low carbon technologies. 4. EPC and DEC certificates – the difference between ‘design’ and ‘in operation’ energy performance. 5. Measuring energy performance in walk through surveys and long-term data monitoring. 6. Understanding human comfort and user behaviour. 7. Dynamic computer simulation. Basic principles of dynamic simulation and introduction to software simulation packages.

Special Features

NHER software computer classes run by an external consultant. This is in UoS iSolutions computing space. Field trip to BRE (Building Research Establishment) which provides access to its site. Special features of module: Assessments of selected buildings on the University’s Highfield Campus will complement the theoretical lecture content with factual observations.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The course will comprise lectures and computer classes on the use of the SAP (NHER Plan Assessor), iSBEM and TRNSYS software tools to model simple case study buildings.

Wider reading or practice50
Supervised time in studio/workshop9
External visits4
Completion of assessment task20
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Passivhaus Standard.

Code for Sustainable Homes.

EU (2003). Directive 2002/91/EC of 16 December 2002 on the Energy Performance of Buildings. 

Approved Document L - Conservation of fuel and power.

National Calculation Method.



MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 40%
Examination  (2 hours) 60%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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