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James Gradwell
James Gradwell

Comprehensive guide to SBEM calculations

June 27, 2023
SAP Calculations

A Comprehensive Guide to SBEM Calculations and Part L Building Regulations

Navigating the world of SBEM calculations and Part L Building Regulations can be daunting, but fear not! In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the ins and outs of these essential processes, helping you to ensure your building project is compliant, energy-efficient, and primed for success.

Short Summary

Understanding SBEM: Simplified Building Energy Model

The Simplified Building Energy Model (SBEM) is a software tool designed to assess energy consumption and CO2 emissions in non-domestic buildings, ensuring compliance with UK building regulations. It takes into account factors such as construction type, heating systems, hot water, and ventilation systems, as well as other elements that can affect energy demand.

In some instances, planning regulations may require a higher standard than Part L, such as carbon targets in London where the Greater London Authority (GLA) typically mandates a 35% enhancement beyond Part L for major developments. This also applies to existing buildings undergoing renovation or extension.

To ensure success in an SBEM calculation, it’s important to engage with the process during the design phase, as the cost of SBEM calculations can range from £350 to £5,000, depending on the size and complexity of the building as well as the service provider.

The Role of SBEM in Building Regulations

SBEM plays a vital role in demonstrating a building’s energy performance and compliance with Part L of the Building Regulations. It is required during the planning stage of any non-domestic building, while for domestic buildings, SAP calculations are used instead to assess energy performance and compliance with Building Regulations.

Level 4 or 5 Energy Assessors are qualified to perform SBEM calculations and provide valuable guidance on incorporating renewable energy sources into the building design to improve energy efficiency and meet compliance requirements. This includes agricultural buildings, which may have specific energy efficiency requirements and considerations.

Stages of SBEM Calculations: Design and Construction

SBEM calculations are performed at two distinct stages: during the design phase and after construction, ensuring energy efficiency throughout the building process.

Let’s delve deeper into each of these stages and their requirements.

As Design Stage

The As Design stage involves an SBEM assessment before construction to identify potential compliance issues and optimize energy efficiency. To perform SBEM calculations at this stage, scaled plans, specifications for heating, cooling, ventilation, hot water, and lighting, U-value calculations for thermal elements, air tightness and thermal bridging information, and certificates, and details of any renewable systems are required.

Completing the As Design stage early on can be beneficial in terms of cost-efficiency and providing more options regarding the materials and energy-efficient systems to be used. It’s important to note that building control bodies will not be able to grant permission for construction to begin on a commercial building without a Design Stage SBEM calculation.

As Built Stage

The As Built stage requires an SBEM calculation after construction, using detailed building information to produce an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). To comply with SBEM regulations and achieve the target emission rate, a centralized heating system is recommended, while localized electric heating should be avoided.

For buildings not connected to a gas network, ground or air source heating may be viable options. It’s essential to consider the recommended heating systems and alternatives in order to pass the SBEM calculation and obtain the required EPC.

Cost of SBEM Calculations

The cost of SBEM calculations varies depending on factors such as the project type and requirements, with different costs for the design and construction stages.

Let’s explore these costs in more detail.

Design Stage Costs

Design stage costs typically range from £350-£5,000, depending on the complexity of the project and the level of energy efficiency required. The cost may be contingent upon the complexity of the building design, the scope of the project, and the assessor’s expertise.

The procedure for an SBEM calculation during the design stage involves evaluating the energy efficiency of the building design and providing suggestions for enhancements. To ensure a successful SBEM calculation during the design stage, it is important to ensure that the building design meets the required energy efficiency standards, utilizes energy-efficient materials, and ensures that the building is properly insulated.

As Built Stage Costs

As Built stage costs can also range from £350-£5,000, depending on the size and complexity of the development. The cost of SBEM calculations at this stage is affected by the size and complexity of the development, the type of building, and the amount of calculations needed.

Heating solutions, such as radiant heating for warehouses and spaces with high ceilings, can help minimize wasted energy in lighting applications. Passive infra-red or photoelectrics are effective control systems for this purpose.

Choosing Between 'As Design', 'As Build', or Both

Involving an SBEM assessor in both the design and construction stages can ensure that the building project is carried out efficiently and meets all the relevant regulations. However, potential impediments, such as alterations in building ownership, could impede engaging an SBEM assessor in both the design and construction phases.

It is advisable to include an SBEM assessor in the design team in order to identify any potential issues before they become a concern. Ultimately, the choice between involving an SBEM assessor in the design stage, construction stage, or both will depend on your project’s specific needs and circumstances.

What to Expect When Paying for SBEM Calculations

When paying for SBEM calculations, you are investing in expertise, resources, and time spent using government-approved energy assessment software. The sbem calculations cost can range from £350 to £5,000, depending on the size and complexity of the building, as well as the service provider.

It is important to note that the cost of SBEM calculations is not a one-time expense. The calculations must be updated periodically to ensure that the building is compliant with the latest energy efficiency regulations. Additionally, the cost will be higher.

Factors Influencing the Cost of SBEM Calculations

The cost of SBEM calculations can be influenced by factors such as major design changes, which may require additional assessments and recalculations. The size and complexity of a building have a direct impact on the amount of time and effort required to complete the SBEM calculation, resulting in an increased cost.

The construction type, U-values, and heating systems all influence the energy efficiency of the building, thus impacting the cost of the SBEM calculation. It’s essential to be aware of these factors when planning your project and budgeting for SBEM calculations.

SBEM Calculation Requirements for Different Building Types

SBEM calculations are required for new non-domestic buildings with heating systems, as well as for certain extensions and mixed-use buildings. For extensions, an SBEM calculation is necessary if the extension’s area is more than 100m2 and exceeds 25% of the total floor area of the existing building.

For warehouses and spaces with high ceilings, radiant heating is suggested, while de-stratification fans can be employed as an alternative solution for spaces that already have traditional hot air systems installed.

Varying approaches can be taken for SBEM assessments, such as desk-based exercises or site surveys. These approaches can be tailored to different project types, including new builds, extensions, and mixed-use developments.

Exemptions from SBEM Calculations

Some buildings, such as places of worship and temporary structures, may be exempt from SBEM calculations. However, if there are offices, catering facilities, or other adjoining spaces, these buildings would not be exempt. Temporary buildings with a use time of less than two years are also exempt from SBEM calculations, but if the temporary building exceeds this, an SBEM calculation would be necessary.

It is important to consult local Building Control for specific exemption information, as the criteria for exemptions may vary. Being aware of these exemptions can help you determine whether your project requires an SBEM calculation or not.

The SBEM Calculation Process

The SBEM calculation process involves using specialized software to assess a building’s energy performance and produce a BRUKL report for EPC creation. To finish an SBEM calculation with Base Energy, copies of plans and specifications are essential, and a site visit can be organized if necessary.

The primary purpose of SBEM calculations is to generate a BRUKL report for the creation of a new or updated Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). The output of an SBEM calculation is a ‘BRUKL’ report, which is crucial for demonstrating compliance with Building Regulations.

Tailoring SBEM Assessments to Different Projects

When conducting SBEM assessments, it is important to take into account the building’s construction type, use, and occupancy, as well as the project goals and motivations of the client. Desk-based exercises and site surveys are two methods of customizing SBEM assessments.

By considering these factors and tailoring the assessment to the specific needs of the project, SBEM assessors can provide more accurate and helpful guidance. Tailored SBEM assessments can be applied to various project types, such as new builds, extensions, and mixed-use developments.

Tips for Passing an SBEM Calculation

To pass an SBEM calculation, it is important to focus on key areas of improvement and compliance, such as building fabric, heating systems, ventilation, and lighting. Achieving a thermally efficient, air-tight building is crucial, as it provides more options when specifying building services.

Selecting LED lighting applications is also recommended due to their high efficacy and cost-effective nature. For minimizing wasted energy in lighting applications, passive infra-red or photoelectric control systems can be employed.

By focusing on these crucial aspects, you can increase your chances of passing an SBEM calculation and ensuring your project’s success.


In conclusion, understanding and complying with SBEM calculations and Part L Building Regulations are essential for the success of your building project. By following the guidance and tips provided in this comprehensive guide, you can navigate the process with confidence, ensuring your project is energy-efficient, compliant, and primed for success.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between an SBEM and EPC?

The main difference between SBEM and EPC is that SBEM is typically used to assess the energy performance of new buildings, while an EPC is used for existing buildings, which often requires a site visit in order to collect evidence.

Both can be used to assess buildings with multiple non-domestic parts, with an EPC able to provide results either for the whole building or for separate parts.

What does SBEM stand for?

SBEM is an acronym that stands for Simplified Building Energy Model. It is a tool used to calculate energy performance in buildings.

What does SBEM mean in construction?

SBEM stands for ‘Simplified Building Energy Model’, a method devised by the government to calculate the energy performance of non-dwellings. This is similar to the SAP calculations used for residential buildings, which measure and rate the energy efficiency of a building from A (Very efficient) to G (Inefficient).

SBEM helps provide an accurate assessment of how energy-efficient a commercial building is, and provides cost-effective solutions to help improve the building’s rating.

What is the SBEM for residential buildings?

SBEM is the government approved methodology for calculating the energy requirements of non-residential buildings. The SBEM acronym stands for ‘Simplified Building Energy Model’ and it provides a rating between A (Very efficient) - G (inefficient), as well as tips on how to improve the energy efficiency of a building.

This helps to reduce carbon emissions and conserve energy, making buildings more sustainable and cost-effective in the long term.

What is an SBEM assessment?

SBEM (Simplified Building Energy Model) is a government-regulated method for calculating the energy efficiency of non-dwellings, such as businesses and public buildings. It is similar to SAP calculations that are used to rate domestic dwellings.

SBEM assessments provide valuable insights into the cost-effective ways to improve a building’s energy rating.

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