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What is the difference between SAP and SBEM?

Design & Construction (RIBA 4-5)
Design & Construction (RIBA 4-5)

What is the difference between SAP and SBEM?


Every new building in the UK needs to be assessed to check its energy efficiency against current Government targets.

If you are constructing houses or apartment blocks, each individual dwelling needs it’s own SAP calculation completed. This should happen before commencement on site, and will be used to generate the dwelling’s first Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) on construction.

Any building that isn’t a dwelling, but still uses energy for heating and lighting, will require an SBEM calculation.

What is the difference between SAP and SBEM?

The two methods are very similar. The main difference is in how the calculation assumes energy use by the occupants of the building. SAP looks at how we typically heat and light our homes, whereas SBEM uses different sets of default information depending on the specific use of the building. This is because a warehouse, for example, has very different energy use patterns to a sports hall or hotel.

SAP Calculations

There is a grey area when it comes to student accommodation and care homes. Generally, if individual apartments are self contained (in other words, they each have their own bedroom, kitchen and bathroom facilities), they will need individual SAP calculations.

SBEM Calculations

Any heated shared areas (corridors, shared lounges, staff rooms etc) will also need an SBEM calculation.

Guest houses and holiday homes could fall into either category, as they may be defined as both a commercial property, and as a dwelling. In these cases we would refer to the development’s building control officer to agree which approach is most suitable.

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