School of Architecture

  • College Lake Wildlife Visitor Centre

    Non-domestic in-use building performance evaluation

    Widening our understanding of real energy performance in civic buildings.

    The building forms the main visitors centre at the College Lake nature reserve, run and managed by the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust and gives vital teaching and office spaces for the Trust to communicate its message to the public.

    The scheme is designed to a high environmental agenda and far exceed the building regulations. The building has been designed to be low energy based on ‘fabric first’ approach, focussing on elements such as airtightness, earth-retaining structure, high insulation levels, innovative rammed chalk material for internal walls, solar shading, thermal mass, stack ventilation system combined with 'high level' glazing and low energy fittings. The annual CO2 emission rate from the EPC is 23.37kg CO2/m2/year which is 50% less than the notional building of the same category.

    This BPE study will verify the extent to which the design aspirations are met in reality and the reasons for the gap.

    The areas of focus are (1) Effectiveness of ‘fabric first’ passive approach (2) Energy use compared to CIBSE, industry benchmarks using TM22 (3) Comfort criteria in office, meeting spaces with reference to summertime overheating (4) Performance of air-source heat pumps (5) The effect of the specified construction systems on moisture levels (6) The impact of the users on energy management and use.

  • Process

    • Energy data will be collected over two years and two heating seasons. Techniques will include Review of handover process and commissioning, assessment of natural ventilation strategy; and addressing supply chain issues as mentioned in the suggestions.
    • Detailed assessment of annual energy consumption over 2 years using CIBSE 22 procedures.
    • Long-term monitoring of temperatures, humidity and CO2 levels, to determine technical performance, spot checks and measurements will be undertaken in different seasons, using thermography, smoke pencils and true power meters.
    • Walkthrough surveys will identify any wastage of energy. This will be triangulated with feedback from staff (and visitors) using BUS questionnaires to ascertain whether needs are met and issues with usability of controls.
    • Structured interviews with management will investigate reliability, maintenance and maintainability.


    Findings from the study will be captured through interim and final reports, categorising recommendations on costs, impact and disruption caused. Recommendations will be fed back to the occupants, building owner, operator, design and building team.

    Project team

    Project details

    Duration: 2012 - 2014

    Funded by:
    Technology Strategy Board

    Project Partners:
    A+G Architects
    Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust
    Institute of Sustainability
    Edgar Taylor contractors

    Total project value: £58,290
    Income to OBU: £40,250