Energy modelling

Excellent design is based on good science as well as a feeling for appearance and a sense of place. CAR has developed scientific models showing how individual buildings or groups of buildings affect – and are affected by – the environment. They are used by developers, designers and policy makers to inform their decisions.

CODE: Cost Optimal Domestic Electrification

We built this model to help the Government work out the most cost-effective ways to convert UK homes from high-carbon gas and oil heating to low-carbon electric heating, primarily using heat pumps. The model incorporates sophisticated dynamic simulation, with hourly calculations, for 12 archetype dwellings that are representative of UK homes. It also runs optimisation to identify the most cost-effective combinations of insulation and airtightness measures, installed alongside electric heating, for each of the dwelling types.

Cambridge Housing Model
This model was developed by Cambridge Architectural Research for BEIS to underpin the Housing Energy Fact File and Energy Consumption in the UK, and to inform housing policy decisions. It was published to encourage scrutiny of the model, and in line with Government policies on transparency. The model is still being developed, and we welcome feedback and comments about it. The model uses English Housing Survey data, coupled to a SAP-based energy calculator, to estimate energy use and CO2 emissions for all homes in England, broken down by final use. The Model and User Guide are available on Hightail.

The Government’s 2100 Calculator
CAR built on the work we did for the Government’s 2050 Calculator, estimating energy use and carbon emissions through to 2050, by helping to develop a new 2100 Calculator that estimates emissions to the end of the century. This has 45 different policy levers (different ways policy makers can intervene to reduce energy use and emissions), at different intensities, from “business as usual” (Level 1) to “effort equivalent to the Apollo landings” (Level 4). The new Calculator has dull and familiar interventions – like more insulation on buildings, increased uptake of heat pumps, more solar power, and more wind turbines – but also more innovative interventions – like large-scale wave and tidal energy, using heat networks, biomass power with carbon-capture and storage and ‘greenhouse gas removal’. All of the interventions and their impacts are based on the best available scientific evidence.

Embodied energy
The sustainability of a building over its lifetime depends not only on its energy consumption in use – and hence CO2 output – but also the embodied energy in its construction it contains. This is the energy consumed in the production of the building materials and components, the process of construction itself, and the renewal of various elements during its life. Our knowledge of embodied energy and durability for various building elements from many countries throughout the world enables us, for example, to identify best practice, advise on minimising a building’s CO2 footprint, and calculate energy trade-offs over its lifetime. We devised a new method to ensure the highest quality of data is incorporated in embodied energy calculations for three European countries, and have even applied this expertise to bamboo composite materials.

Daylight and sunlight analysis
CAR offers analysis of daylight and sunlight, both within buildings and for the urban spaces that surround them. We have applied image processing techniques to digital elevation models of the urban tissue in order to study daylight and sunlight availability in the urban environment.

Environmental Impact Assessment
Using the same tools that support good design, CAR can prepare impact assessments for planning applications covering sustainability, daylight and renewable energy.


Jason Palmer
01223 460475

Daylight and sunlight analysis

CAR Associates Dr. Nick Baker and Dr. Vicky Cheng have been involved in urban consultancy projects in Leicester and Nottingham with URBED (Urbanism, Environment and Design) Ltd., Manchester.

Read More »