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Last edited 29 Jan 2020
Regulated and unregulated energy consumption
A building’s energy consumption varies considerably according to the building’s function. Its total operational energy usage comprises regulated and unregulated energy. BREEAM broadly defines regulated and unregulated energy consumption as follows:
‘Regulated energy is building energy consumption resulting from the specification of controlled, fixed building services and fittings, including space heating and cooling, hot water, ventilation, fans, pumps and lighting. Such energy uses are inherent in the design of a building.’
NB The Home Quality Mark One, Technical Manual SD239, England, Scotland & Wales, published by BRE in 2018 defines a regulated energy as; ‘…building energy consumption resulting from the specification of controlled, fixed building services and fittings, including space heating and cooling, hot water, ventilation and lighting.’
Unregulated energy is building energy consumption resulting from a system or process that is not ‘controlled’, ie energy consumption from systems in the building on which the Building Regulations do not impose a requirement. For example, this may include energy consumption from systems integral to the building and its operation, e.g. IT equipment, lifts, escalators, refrigeration systems, external lighting, ducted-fume cupboards, servers, printers, photocopiers, laptops, cooking, audio-visual equipment and other appliances.
Unlike regulated energy use, unregulated energy consumption is usually only determined very late in the design process; it can also vary throughout the building lifecycle. This is because buildings may have different occupants or uses.
NB The Home Quality Mark One, Technical Manual SD239, England, Scotland & Wales, published by BRE in 2018 defines a unregulated energy as; ‘…the energy consumption of the home that is not ‘controlled’, i.e. energy consumption from aspects of the home on which Building Regulations do not impose a requirement. For the purposes of the HQM assessment, this includes energy associated with lighting, appliances and cooking.’
Designers usually demonstrate compliance with Approved Document L of the building regulations as evidence of a building’s energy efficiency. But this does not fully reflect reality, as regulated energy is only a part of the total. Although they can usually predict regulated energy usage, it becomes more difficult with unregulated energy as predicting user behaviour can be problematic. This means that designers should not be held accountable for total operational energy usage as it is something they can only partly influence.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Approved document L.
- Building Regulations.
- Energy performance certificates.
- Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).
- New energy retrofit concept: ‘renovation trains’ for mass housing.
- Operational carbon.
- Performance gap.
- The code for sustainable homes.
 External references
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