SusCon Building

Principal Investigator(s): Professor Rajat Gupta


Project start: September 2012

Project finish: September 2014

Funded by: Innovate UK

About us

Category: Non-domestic in-use building performance evaluation

Objective: 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.

Thermal imaging of SusCon building


Rajat Gupta

Professor Rajat Gupta

Professor of Sustainable Architecture and Climate Change, Director of OISD and LCB Group

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The study included:

  • 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 were calibrated, and energy demand profiles were analysed using BMS data.
  • Long-term monitoring of temperatures, humidity and CO2 levels undertaken using data-loggers and CO2 sensors.
  • To determine technical performance, spot checks and measurements were undertaken in different seasons, using thermography, smoke pencils and true power meters. Walkthrough surveys identified any wastage of energy.
  • This was triangulated with feedback from staff and students using BUS questionnaires to ascertain whether needs were met and any issues aired with usability of controls for ventilation and lighting.
  • Structured interviews with management investigated reliability, maintenance and maintainability.
  • Findings from the study were captured through interim and final reports, categorising recommendations as no, low, medium and high costs, level of impact and disruption caused.

Thermal image of the interior of the SusCon building


  • 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.
  • Provide key lessons for future public building design, specification and performance.
  • Increase the understanding of the relationship between intended performance and actual performance in use.
  • Identify the role of occupants in minimising energy use to full time staff and students, researchers, policy developers and members of the public.

Project details

Funded by:

  • Innovate UK (formally known as 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


  • Gupta, R. and Gregg, M. (2016) Empirical evaluation of the energy and environmental performance of a sustainably-designed but under-utilised institutional building in the UK, Energy and Buildings, Volume 128, Pages 68-80