School of Architecture

  • SusCon Building

    Non-domestic in-use building performance evaluation

    Understanding the in-operation performance of a building design that achieved three key metrics - a BREEAM Outstanding Rating, an EPC rating of A (10) and near-zero embodied carbon.

    The SusCon Academy is operated by North West Kent (NWK) College as a teaching facility for Sustainable Construction Techniques to support an exemplar 'Green Skills' training programme which is being provided by North West Kent College in Dartford.

    The building is designed to operate passively with minimal energy requirement and low reliance on fossil fuels. Unusually, the building uses three different structural techniques: the workshops have a steel frame, the atrium a wooden frame and the teaching spaces a concrete frame.

    The overall objective of the project is to improve and optimise energy performance by reducing the gap between the designed and actual performance, using feedback from assessment of energy consumption, demand profiles, in-use monitoring of the thermal environment, and occupant satisfaction.

  • Process

    The study will include:

    • Review of handover process and commissioning involving the building team, assessment of natural ventilation strategy and supply chain issues.
    • Detailed assessment of annual energy consumption (and generation by biomass boiler) over 2 years using CIBSE 22 procedures. Sub-metering arrangements will be calibrated, and energy demand profiles will be analysed using BMS data.
    • Long-term monitoring will be undertaken of temperatures, humidity and CO2 levels using data-loggers and CO2 sensors.
    • 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 students using BUS questionnaires to ascertain whether needs are met and any issues airings with usability of controls for ventilation and lighting.
    • Structured interviews with management will investigate reliability, maintenance and maintainability.
    • Finally, findings from the study will be captured through interim and final reports, categorising recommendations as no, low, medium and high costs, level of impact and disruption caused.


    (1) Improve performance by providing feedback on how the multi-stakeholder public client manages the building to support each end user group's very distinct needs to help the FM manage the sophisticated BMS. (2) Provide key lessons for future public building design, specification and performance. (3) Increase the understanding of the relationship between intended performance and actual performance in use. (4) Identify the role of occupants in minimising energy use to full time staff and students, researchers, policy developers and members of the public.

    Project team

    Project details

    Duration: 2012 - 2014

    Funded by:
    Technology Strategy Board

    Project Partners:
    North West Kent (NWK) College
    Institute of Sustainability (IfS)
    WinVic Construction
    Dartford Borough Council

    Total project value: £59,970
    Income to OBU: £43,100