Building and Energy Data Frameworks

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Bartlett Sch of Graduate Studies


The Government has committed itself to an extremely challenging 80% decarbonisation of the economy by 2050. A major part of this is to be achieved by improvements in energy consumption in the building stock. The fact is however that energy use in buildings has grown continuously over the past twenty years, despite numerous programmes attempting to reduce consumption. It is now widely acknowledged that vastly improved data resources and understanding are required, both to evaluate the past effectiveness of efficiency programmes and to underpin new conservation initiatives through to 2050 and beyond. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is in the process of developing two 'data frameworks': the first (HEED) for dwellings, the second (NEED) for non-domestic buildings. Work is much further advanced on HEED than on NEED, which is still at the feasibility and pilot stage. The purpose in both cases is to link existing data on the physical and constructional attributes of buildings and their service systems with data on actual consumption of gas and electricity from the supply companies. The plan is that, in time, every building and premise in the country will be included. The development of HEED and NEED open up extraordinary and unprecedented opportunities for improving the precision and reliability with which low carbon strategies are framed, guided and evaluated. The data frameworks can provide a quantum leap in our understanding of current patterns of consumption at the level of individual dwellings, premises and buildings; and in the years to come, will make it possible to follow changes and trends in different sectors, building types, end uses and fuels. It will be possible for example to check in detail whether changes to the Building Regulations are working. A further benefit will be the development of new and improved predictive models of energy use in the building stock.This proposal is for a project to run alongside and to be closely integrated with the development of the DECC data frameworks, in which the applicants have already been involved as consultants on pilot studies and in the preliminary analysis of results. There are powerful reasons for an academic involvement here. It is important, given the considerable investment that is being made to generate these new data on the building stock and its use of energy, that the data are robust, and that the information generated from those data is reliable and well founded. The data and results need to be in forms suitable to meet the needs of many interested parties, ranging from those in government who are framing, monitoring and assessing policy, to those in industry and the professions who are implementing the necessary programmes and measures.The emphasis in the research is in three areas:1. Theoretical support for the data models and classifications being developed for HEED and NEED2. Exploratory analysis of the data on 8 million dwellings in HEED and the 1500 non-domestic premises being covered in the pilot of NEED. This will include analysis of average levels of energy use per square metre of floor area in different types and sizes of dwelling and non-domestic premise; studies of the effects of age of buildings on energy use; and studies of the variations in consumption in different parts of the country.3. Evaluation of the opportunities that the full data frameworks will offer for further research by the academic and professional communitiesThis a short project (12 months) whose purpose is to start to open up the opportunities that the data frameworks will create. Emphasis is to be put on wide consultation among stakeholders in government, industry, the professions and university researchers, and on wide dissemination of the results to the same groups.

Planned Impact

The government is placing great emphasis on energy efficiency and low carbon supply technologies in the building stock, as a prime means of achieving its climate change goals. Its programmes will involve very large sums of money. Just in the domestic sector, the cost of implementing the 2016 Zero Carbon target for new houses is estimated at between 10k and 50k per dwelling, with a total annual spend of between 200 million and 1 billion. It is not easy to calculate the total costs of upgrading the existing domestic and non-domestic stocks to the required standards, but estimates have ranged up to 1 trillion. The costs of the HEED and NEED data frameworks will be modest by comparison. In these programmes it is imperative that resources be targeted in the most cost-efficient way, and that they be continuously monitored for their effectiveness in achieving the planned CO2 reductions. In the Case for Support we have stressed the crucial role that improved information can play here, and have listed some of the many voices calling for better data on the building stock and its use of energy. No other country will have anything like the DECC data frameworks, with consumption data linked to a range of physical and occupant data on every individual premise and building. The impact will be not just on government policy: the data collected for HEED and NEED will be a treasure trove for new academic research in support of that policy. The first beneficiary of the research will of course be the Department of Energy and Climate Change, with whom the applicants have close working contacts, not least via the involvement of Bruhns in the NEED scoping study and pilot, and Summerfield in the analysis of HEED data with the Energy Saving Trust. We would hope that some of the conceptual and methodological advances from the work would become embedded in the data frameworks themselves. The results will be of immediate use across other government departments such as DEFRA and CLG with interests in the effectiveness of existing interventions and their impact on such issues as fuel poverty. For example these departments will want to identify the impacts of previous rounds of Building Regulations, across the board, but also in relation to specific measures and sectors of the stock. Other users could include bodies such as the Climate Change Commission and OfGEM, and professional organisations connected with the construction industry like the RIBA, CABE and CIBSE. The utility companies will be keen to improve the match of their mix of energy supply and tariff structures to customer profiles. Those involved with energy monitoring, such as energy service companies, developers, and housing authorities, will find benchmarks for energy consumption in comparable buildings. We describe the benefits to academic research in the next section: but for example, HEED and NEED will allow researchers to set their own fieldwork on specific sectors in a national context, and will create the means for developing new models that combine technical with social and behavioural aspects of energy consumption. Beyond the immediate impacts on public policy and the construction sector, there are the obvious general goods that a successful programme of decarbonising the building stock will help to bring about, in increasing the nation's energy security and mitigating and adapting to climate change. It goes without saying that these benefits would be spread very widely across all sectors of the economy and all groups in the population. Mechanisms for disseminating results from the research are described in detail in the Impact Plan. The first of these will be through close engagement with DECC and ongoing development of the data frameworks. Workshops will be held with DECC and other stakeholder organisations. The research findings will be disseminated in the usual ways via a dedicated website, conference presentations and journal articles.
Description EPSRC standard grant
Amount £462,830 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2012 
End 12/2013
Title Database of Display Energy Certificates 
Description 35,000 Display Energy Certificates issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government, and held by Landmark 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact A report on the analysis of this database was made to the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers, who will revise the methods and figures used to support the DECs scheme as published in their Guide TM46 
Title Homes Energy Efficiency Database (HEED) 
Description Data on 13 million dwellings in the UK and their use of energy 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The database was analysed in detail and the results reported in a series of journal papers 
Description Collaboration with Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers on the analysis of Display Energy Certificates 
Organisation Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Cleaning and analysis of a database of 35,000 Display Energy Certificates for public buildings
Collaborator Contribution Supply by DCLG and Landmark via CIBSE of a database of 35,000 Display Energy Certificates for public buildings
Impact An Analysis of Display Energy Certificates for Public Buildings, 2008 to 2012, Report to the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers, October 2013, available at
Start Year 2009
Description Collaboration with Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Energy Saving Trust 
Organisation Department of Energy and Climate Change
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Cleaning, preparation and analysis of the Homes Energy Efficiency Database (HEED) developed by DECC and the Energy Saving Trust, containing data on 13 million dwellings
Collaborator Contribution Making the HEED database available to the project
Impact Building and Energy Data Frameworks - Report on the exploratory analysis of the Homes Energy Efficiency Database and Energy Demand, UCL Energy Institute 2010, available from
Start Year 2009
Description Workshop on Building and Energy Data Frameworks 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was a workshop for policy-makers, practitioners and academics, held at University College London, where the results of the project 'Building and Energy Data Frameworks' were presented and discussed

Further contact with many of the organisations and individuals involved
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010