Experts are “illiterate” when it comes to modelling the energy use of buildings, meaning they could be using twice as much power as estimated, according to the University of Bath.

Researchers questioned building modelling professionals and found a quarter were no better than members of the public in predicting the energy use of buildings.

Their findings offer a new explanation for the “performance gap” – the difference between how much energy a building is predicted to use and how much it uses in reality.

They said that, while architects and engineers have known about the “gap” for a long time, most homeowners or facilities managers have not.

Climate targets under threat

David Coley, Professor of Low Carbon Design at the University of Bath, said: “Previous research has assumed the ‘performance gap’ can be attributed to the construction and operation stages.

“However, we have revealed a new cause for the ‘performance gap’, that being the modelling illiteracy of building modelling professionals arising from the modellers being separated from the rest of the construction process and the final building.

“The impact of the inaccuracies of building modelling professionals has severe financial and environmental implications for both the government’s global warming targets as well as building owners who are purchasing homes and other buildings that are sold to be energy efficient but in reality are not.”

> Read the research