Policy implications for the performance gap of low-carbon building technologies

Journal Article

It is widely recognized that the actual impact of low-carbon technologies is often lower than predicted by models alone, a phenomenon which has been coined the ‘performance gap’. Despite this awareness, in many instances estimates of both energy savings and renewable energy generation in domestic buildings continue to rely on engineering models and building energy simulations rather than approaches that are based on measured parameters. Much of the existing literature on the performance gap focuses on energy efficiency and is concerned with the quantification of the scale of the performance gap. This paper adds to this body of evidence by drawing retrospectively on a range of grey literature evaluations of low-carbon technologies (including energy-efficiency measures, renewable heat and renewable electricity) in the UK household sector. The focus is on not only the quantification of the performance gap but also the qualitative factors often overlooked, such as installation issues or installer/user behaviour. Recommended policy changes include the development of evaluation standards, the experimentation with pay-for-performance programmes, ensuring that installation standards for low-carbon technologies are being enforced, and taking reasonable steps to ensuring that end users can use any new technology effectively.

Find out more about Jan Rosenow and his work at CIED.