Laura E. Fedoruk, Raymond J. Cole, John B. Robinson & Alberto Cayuela (2015) Learning from failure: understanding the anticipated–achieved building energy performance gap, Building Research & Information, 43:6, 750-763


Over the past 20 years a number of studies have identified and provided explanations for a significant ‘performance gap’ between designed and actual energy performance of buildings. The anticipated and achieved energy performance of an advanced, innovative building that aspired to net-positive energy performance is studied: the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) building at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Selected performance ‘failures’ that became evident during operation of CIRS are studied for how they were discovered and the efforts required for their resolution: the energy systems and associated controls and monitoring. The key findings show the barriers were neither economic nor technical. Instead, the primary impediments were institutional regimes – arising from the ways that various life-cycle stages were specified, contracted and implemented. The key issues emphasize the importance of having meaningful and effective building energy monitoring capabilities, an understanding of energy system boundaries in design and analysis, crossing the gaps between different stages of a building life cycle, and feedback processes throughout design and operation. The disclosure of ‘failure’ and lessons learned is a valuable contribution to subsequent advancement for the building stakeholders and the wider professional and research communities.