Frequently Asked Questions

The official competition documentation is available to download from the Technology Strategy Board's competitions page to access this information.

1. I have a number of buildings across the country that I would like to evaluate, should I put in a single application?
If the buildings are distinctly different then separate applications would be advisable. If they are similar in most respects and the study involves comparisons amongst them, then a combined application may be justified.

2. What age should the building be at the time of application?
For non-domestic buildings, the building should be in the range of 9 months before completion to 3 years post-completion based on the deadline for full submission. For domestic buildings, the building should be no more than 6 months before planned completion to 2 years post-completion.

3. Does it include domestic refurbishment?
Domestic refurbishment is excluded from this competition. Although the fund we have available is a significant sum, spreading it too thinly across a wide range of study types will result in too small a sample size for each project or building type. Additionally the Retrofit for the Future projects will provide a comparable data set from some aspects of domestic refurbishment.

4. Will the meta-analysis come out of the same funding pot?
A proportion of the £8 million has been allocated to carry out meta-analysis but we anticipate that the rich data that will be collected throughout the programme will be used in numerous research projects funded from a variety of sources over the coming years.

5. What can you tell us about common tools and techniques?
With the help of a group from the Zero Carbon Hub a number of tools, techniques and protocols for domestic and non-domestic buildings have been identified and, in some cases, are being further developed. For domestic projects, these build upon the protocols developed by the Energy Saving Trust for the Retrofit for the Future programme, and those referred to in the C298  monitoring document. A protocol for co-heating testing is taken from work by Malcolm Bell and colleagues at Leeds Metropolitan University.
On the non-domestic side an updated version of CIBSEs TM22 will be used, this is currently being developed with CIBSE. A domestic version of this, commissioned by HCA is being finalised for use in domestic projects.
Finally, the Building Use Survey tool, for occupant surveys, originally developed by the Usable Building Trust has been adopted for both domestic and non-domestic projects.

6. How will you be evaluating applications?
The Technology Strategy Board has a number of independent assessors it uses to assess applications in accordance with established Technology Strategy Board practice.

7. What criteria will you use to assess the applications?
The assessors will look at a variety of criteria, including:

  • Do the assessors think the building or development is suitable to be studied?
  • What will the applicants do with the learning they gain from the project?
  • How will it benefit the industry as a whole?
  • The assessors will undertake a critical analysis of the applications against the competition scope and technical directives and against peer submissions. These will be ranked in order of consensus preference for funding. Consideration will also be given to the contribution each specific project will make to the overall portfolio of the Building Performance Evaluation programme.

8. If two builders want to work together on evaluating a single project, is this allowed?
As this is a contract between the applicant and the Technology Strategy Board, the Technology Strategy Board can only procure from one organisation. If there is a consortium applying to the competition, then it would need to appoint a lead, and explain how the consortia would be structured. All participants in the project, other than the project lead organisation will be subcontractors to the lead organisation.

9. Can you explain more about Phase 1 evaluations?
Phase 1 evaluations (for domestic projects) are designed to be carried as the building reaches completion and immediately post-completion to look at the initial building performance, the handover and commissioning process and immediate reactions of the users.

10. In light of the current government spending cuts, will this competition definitely go ahead?
The funding for the competition is secure as far as it can be. The Technology Strategy Board is arms length from government. The funding for this competition is coming from the central core budget, which was signed off two years ago.

11. How will the contract work?
The contract will be between the Technology Strategy Board and the lead organisation. The contract sum will be paid quarterly in areas to the lead applicants for costs incurred and defrayed (actually spent- not just committed). The involvement of an experienced Technology Strategy Board appointed Building Performance Evaluator for non-domestic initial studies and to support all projects during execution will be paid for directly by the Technology Strategy Board.

12. When will the applicants know if they have been successful?
The deadline for tranche 5 domestic proposals, tranche 4 non-domestic full stage proposals and tranche 5 non-domestic initial proposals is 14th September 2011. Applicants will know whether this has been successful by 11th October 2011.

13. What about the CIBSE TM22 license fee?
No license fee will be charged for using the updated version of TM22 on any BPE project in the Technology Strategy Board programme.

14. RSLs often have difficulty carrying out post-occupancy evaluation due to legal agreements with tenants. How do you advise we get around this issue?
Getting cooperation from occupants in the domestic sector can be challenging. There are a variety of skills and tools that can be used.

15. How do owners get around the issues of negative PR?
This is obviously an issue for all those involved in the building. If a client is reluctant they will not cooperate with the evaluation. However the process is not about finding faults and applicants will have the right of veto to request that information is not made public and that the data be anonomised. Building owners' views on this is changing, with many showing an interest in engaging in a continuous improvement process.

16. For domestic projects is phase 1 evaluation a pre-condition of phase 2 evaluation?
No, it depends on what stage your project is at. However, we anticipate that most domestic Phase 2 projects will follow on from a Phase 1 project.

17. How many projects do you intend to fund?
That depends on the size of the projects. At this stage we are looking at around 100 to 120 projects.

18. How will the data be made public?
The domestic data will be hosted by the Energy Savings Trust alongside the Retrofit for the Future data. The data will be held securely and there will be arrangements in place to maintain appropriate confidentiality. Data will be made available to others suitable organisations for further research and meta analysis, under confidentiality.

Non-domestic data will be held in Carbon Buzz,

19. Are applicants going to be bound by using specific protocols?
Where a specific tool has been defined, then it should be used. It may be slightly inefficient on that particular project, but it is essential to get a comparable data-set. The prescribed tools techniques and protocols for domestic projects are described in some detail in the Guidance for Project Execution document. For non-domestic projects the same applies but there are fewer prescriptions as the nature of non-domestic projects varies enormously. Guidance is available in the Technical Guidance for Non-Domestic Buildings.

20. What level of engagement do registrants need to have with owners at this stage?
Applicants must ensure there is a dialogue in place and possibly a letter of support. Indeed it may be better if that organisation was the applicant, as the application may be more powerful when led by an owner.

21. How far progressed should the building be?
Applicants should have essential information on the design. For non-domestic buildings there should be BRUKL as designed worksheets and for domestic we need to have the SAP worksheets. Strictly speaking we need "the detailed statutory carbon emissions calculation produced for the purposes of compliance with the relevant building regulations and standards applicable at the time and in the place where the project is being  constructed ", so, for buildings in Scotland the requirements are slightly different than for those in England.

22. Can you apply again if you failed first time?
You can, although you are strongly advised to review your earlier feedback and check the requirements for the particular tranche of the competition to which you are applying: the requirements may change slightly and specific building types may be encouraged from time to time. If you have been successful at Initial Project Application stage for a non-domestic projects, but then unsuccessful at Full Application stage you need only to reapply at Full Stage. If you find yourself in this position, please contact the competitions helpline to ensure you receive an updated application number for your Full Stage application.

23. How can individuals and organisations with one particular skill set get involved in projects as evaluators?
We have created a Register of Building Performance Evaluators, where those able to provide evaluation services and expertise can register these. Those seeking providers of evaluation skills and services can review the register to look for suitable providers. The register is available at /web/building-performance-evaluation/bpevaluators-register .

24. Can organisations register on the list of building performance evaluators?
The register is aimed at listing individuals although these will tend to have affiliations.

25. If I am an assessor for applications can I still carry out building performance evaluations?
Assessing project proposals may preclude individuals from carrying out the evaluations. Please contact the TSB for further information.

26. Can phase 1&2 be applied for at the same time?
Yes, but be sure that each application can be judged and project undertaken independently. It would be reasonable to cross refer to some project content and thus costs that would only be required to be undertaken once across the two phases, thus representing a saving if both phase 1 and phase 2 projects are successful. This is especially relevant in the case of domestic buildings.

27. Do we need to have an evaluator on board, or do you propose one?
For the initial study on non-dom projects, we will assign an evaluator. For domestic projects, those registering for the competition (although this does not mean you will necessarily submit an application) the Technology Strategy Board will assign an Evaluator. You will be able to discuss the nature and composition of your proposed study with your Evaluator, by ‘phone or in person, and, once you have drafted your proposal, read and comment on this prior to you finalising your application.

28. Can a body submit multiple applications?
Yes, organisations can submit as many applications as they wish, provided they are distinct proposals addressing different buildings or different study periods in the building lifecycle. However, please be aware that the aims of the overall programme is to build understanding and capability across the built environment sectors.

29. What range of budget is regarded typical for a case study building- both domestic and nondomestic please?

In response to this question we advised, during the first tranche, that the typical budget is likely to be £25-£40K depending on the size of the project. However, in the light of applications we have received we have revised this figure upwards to between £30K and £60K. Applications for a single building that exceed this figure are highly unlikely to succeed.

30. What if the study I want to do does exceed the guide cost?
The Technology Strategy Board funding is intended to cover the full costs of the essential study. However, if you are using a very high proportion of sub-contract labour and /or wish to extend the scope of the project beyond the basic study, you may choose to support some of the costs yourself to improve the cost effectiveness of the basic study. In this case, you need not be explicit about the amount of costs you are covering but simply include these aspects in your proposal as ‘covered by applicant'. This will enable you to present the complete study proposed.

31. Who will be paying for the evaluators? Are they to be costed in the project?
Evaluators assigned by TSB to provide the initial study, application technical guidance and peer review during execution of the project will be paid for by TSB and do not need to be included in the application costs. Costs for evaluators used to undertake the project should be included in your proposal.

32. Are you also looking at success of the build process as well as success of the finished building?
Yes, we recognise that deviation from theoretical performance will arise from a number of different causes, and all of these can be investigated through this competition.

33. Are there any plans for a similar funding stream for retrofit of existing domestic stock?
No, our main activity in that area has been through the Retrofit for the Future progamme.

34. We have completed Passivhaus Planning Package calculations for our domestic project - do we need to complete a SAP assessment to enter the competition?

35. We are a university exploring an energy efficient / low carbon housing project but we do not own the buildings and we did not commission the buildings are we an eligible applicant ?
If you can demonstrate that you have appropriate authority and responsibility for the buildings and you apply as a commercial entity then you may apply, Your application is likely to be much stronger application if led by the building owner or occupier.

36. Can you install additional monitoring equipment as part of the study?

Updated 20th June 2011