Research & Development
In the The Conclude Consultancy we are firm advocates of research as the euphemistic ‘factory’ for the generation of new ideas. A core part of the team’s work is founded in the research discipline. Indeed the central ideas behind The Conclude Consultancy were born out of research undertaken by Professor Bacon. Working closely with the University of Salford, School of the Built Environment, one of the the UK’s leading research institutions in this area, and where Bacon is a Visiting Professor, The Conclude Consultancy has access to a wealth of knowledge and expertise.
A recent example of such a collaboration with the University of Salford is with the Salford Centre for Virtual Environments where Bacon has been working with the team on the development of an immersive reality model for a new hospital project. The work commenced in March 2011, and is due to be completed later this summer.
Current research (Spring 2012)
‘Peak load smoothing’ – a new concept in energy efficiency
Late last year (Autumn 2011), The Conclude Consultancy commissioned research into the potential benefits of challenging functional processes in hospitals with the objective of achieving a substantial reduction in peak energy loads. The foundation for our argument is that the factors that determine peak energy loads are wholly dictated by how we use our buildings. NHS Trusts and other hospital owners/ operators will be increasingly exposed to ‘peak load energy tariffs’. In our view, this will inevitably mean that peak load tariffs will be used as a means of penalising heavy users and so encourage them to reduce their peak energy loads. This raises the research question: “how can this be achieved?”
Using our Occupancy Analytics model (http://www.conclude.org.uk/occupancy-analytics-a-new-basis-for-low-carbon-design-2/) we developed alternative process scenarios that set out to control how different functions could be phased to operate at different cycles through a working day. We concentrated our studies on Outpatient processes.
Modelling of peak occupancy loads: which drive peak energy loads
Our studies demonstrated that peak occupancy loads could be reduced by up to 23%. This offers significant potential to reduce peak energy loads. We are currently studying the potential energy impacts of this work.
However, we believe that the benefits will not stop at saving energy costs. A significant benefit will also accrue for the design of new facilities. If operational processes can be controlled as we propose, then the capital cost of plant to ventilate, heat and cool the building will also be reduced accordingly. This will also mean that the systems will be operating much more efficiently, because they will be sized appropriately. Research has clearly demonstrated that building plant is often oversized and this leads to inefficient operation, resulting in greater carbon emissions than would have otherwise been the case.
Development of an In-Use performance database.
Professor Bacon is developing a whole new approach to post-occupancy data capture, which he prefers to call ‘In-Use’ data capture for an In-Use Energy database. The work is being developed with the Brighton & Sussex University Hospital Trust, Laing O’Rourke plc, the Chartered Institure of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) and Eleven Informatics LLP.
Many experts would agree that without accurate and auditable In-Use data, project teams are starved of valuable knolwledge about the In-Use performance of their designs. Without this data, engineering solutions cannot be effectively improved from one project to the next. Furthermore, without this data, it is very difficult to compare the effectiveness of different engineering strategies in terms of facility performance. Currently, performance benchmarks are normally reported at facility level and without any correlation to the engineering strategies which deliver that performance. Bacon’s team is developing a radical new alternative that will enable facility perfomance benchmarks to be ‘assembled’ from data aggregated from granular facility data. He argues that this will herald a new era of facility benchmarking for In-Use Energy performance..
This work work will form the foundation for a national database in health care facilities performance, to enable comparative benchmark performance for these complex facilities.