Australian Research Council (ARC)
Linkage Project

This project is funded partially by the Australian Government through the Australian Research Council Nanocomm HUB.

SBEnrc’s research Project 1.43 Retrofitting Public Buildings for Energy and Water Efficiency has been successful in leveraging into this ARC Linkage project.


April 2017 – March 2019

The disparity found between the predicted energy consumption in the design stage of buildings and the actual energy use during operation is known as the energy performance gap. According to recent studies, the actual energy consumption can be up to 2.5 times higher than the predicted. Inaccurate prediction of energy savings can cause significant financial loss to the clients and investors because in a retrofitting project the installation cost of the retrofit measures is repaid from energy savings. The performance gap may arise due to various reasons during the project’s lifecycle. These may include issues at the design stage such as faulty design assumptions or simplification in design, errors related to the construction and commissioning works, and problems occurring in the operation stage such as inefficient operational practices.


This project aims to develop a methodology that will help to minimise the performance gap that may arise from design, construction and operational stages in buildings. The objectives are:

  1. Investigate the factors that contribute to the energy performance gap
  2. Develop strategies to reduce the impact of these factors and minimise the performance gap
  3. Develop a framework for the designers, contractors and building operation staff to follow to minimise the performance gap

Industry Outcomes

The expected outcomes include a list of influencing factors, a relevant improvement strategy and frameworks that will help the designers and contractors to minimise the performance gap. This will also help facility managers to attain optimum operational efficiency. Other potential impacts include:

  1. increased confidence in energy efficient building designs leading to greater investment and creation of new business opportunities and jobs in the retrofitting industry
  2. savings in public funds from ineffective retrofit schemes
  3. improvements in thermal comfort, productivity and employee satisfaction in office buildings
  4. reduction in national energy consumption and carbon emissions


Documents for Downloading

The following documents provide additional detail regarding this current research, including project outcomes to date:

Fact Sheet

Project Fact Sheet

Industry Report

Closing the gap between design and reality of building energy performance (Nov 2019, 2Mb)

Research Reports

Project overview and literature review (Feb 2018, 1.4Mb)
Factors and strategies at design and construction stages (May 2018, 1Mb)
Identification of operation phase factors (Feb 2019, 1.5Mb)
Strategies to address operational phase factors (Feb 2019, 1Mb)
Case study on an educational building (Nov 2018, 2Mb)
Case study on a commercial office building (coming soon)


Strategies for minimizing building energy performance gaps between the design intend and the reality, Patrick X.W. Zou, Dipika Wagle , Morshed Alam, Energy and Buildings, Volume 191, 15 May 2019, Pages 31-41 (May 2019, 2Mb)
Energy saving performance assessment and lessons learned from the operation of an active phase change materials system in a multi-storey building in Melbourne, Morshed Alam, Patrick X.W. Zou, Jay Sanjayan, Sayanthan Ramakrishnan, Applied Energy, Volume 238, 15 March 2019, Pages 1582-1595 (Mar 2019, 3Mb)