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Retrofit Validation

The Monitoring Requirements of PAS 2035

With PAS 2035 released, the requirements for housing providers and their contractors to monitor their retrofit initiatives might come as a bit of a shock.

Alex Brodholt
Alex Brodholt

Oct 05, 2021

With growing concern over the UK’s carbon emissions goals and the slow pace at which housing is adjusting to the new zero-carbon environment - housing regulations are having to change. The government’s commitment to Net Zero is predicated on every industry in the country reducing its carbon output significantly so in 2015 they commissioned the Each Home Counts review. It aimed to identify, understand and then rectify the particularly poor rate of successful energy efficiency retrofit works. What we now know as PAS 2035 was the result of this review. It was devised as part of a wider energy efficiency push from BEIS (Business Energy and Industrial Strategy). After some trial runs and a transitionary period, the government is now looking to ensure that all public-funded projects (including ECO Retrofit projects) would be compliant with the PAS 2035 standard.

The new requirements

There are many new requirements that come with PAS 2035 accreditation, but one of the most significant is the requirement for ongoing monitoring of a property. This is something that, whilst increasing in popularity, is not universal across the industry. Section 14 of the PAS 2035 documentation lays out what needs to be done.

“The Retrofit Coordinator shall ensure that every retrofit project is subject to monitoring and evaluation to determine whether the intended outcomes of the retrofit project have been realized, and to identify and learn from any project-specific or systematic problems with the retrofit risk assessment, the dwelling assessment, the retrofit design, the installation of EEMs or the testing, commissioning or handover of EEMs.”

There are three levels of monitoring and evaluation that are laid out in the legislation that require three different levels of technological integration. The most universal level - “Basic monitoring and evaluation” needs to be applied to every completed domestic retrofit project under PAS 2035. The next level up - “Intermediate monitoring and evaluation” is needed for projects where the original basic monitoring and evaluation indicates that the results of the installation are not as expected or as specified. Finally, the highest level of monitoring - “Advanced monitoring and evaluation” is necessary when the intermediate monitoring has failed to identify the issue or failed to resolve the discrepancy between the predicted performance of the installation and the real-world performance.

  1. Basic Monitoring and Evaluation

The most basic monitoring requirements outlined below are now mandatory for all properties. This monitoring consists of a measure-specific questionnaire being presented to each resident in order to establish the following:

  • Whether the agreed intended outcomes of the project have been achieved.
  • Whether there have been any unintended or unexpected consequences of the work.
  • Whether they are satisfied with the outcomes.
  • Whether they are satisfied with the process of assessment, design, installation, testing, commissioning and handover of retrofit measures.
  • The identification of any specific points of dissatisfaction.
  • The identification of any elements of the installation that are not working as expected.
  • Any other comments the Client and occupant(s) might want to make.

The goal of this monitoring is to provide the housing provider with summarised feedback on the installation, product and handover as well as provide them with recommendations for any other actions that might be necessary for future installations.

Technology is likely the most sustainable way of addressing this issue. With Switchee, for example, you are capable of surveying entire groups of residents remotely, collect their feedback automatically and download the results. This has two main advantages - firstly it is significantly less expensive than sending the same survey through letters or worse yet through an in-person visit. It also has a much higher response rate (upwards of 90%) - which means that the results will not be as skewed to the negative as a more traditional survey. This should help to establish a more accurate picture of the product and the post-installation experience.

switchee-survey

  1. Intermediate Monitoring and Evaluation

When the basic monitoring highlights that there might be an issue, intermediate monitoring and evaluation are to be used on the property. The requirements for this are more stringent - with a host of new data to be collected and analysed. This includes:

  • Review the previous basic monitoring and evaluation report that was carried out.
  • Inspecting the dwelling to check that all the installed EEMs are in place and functioning correctly as well as identifying any instances of condensation, damp or mould.
  • Post-installation air-tightness testing (if this was a requirement or there is evidence of CDM).
  • Monitoring of the resident’s fuel use using data from the occupants’ fuel bills, meter readings or smart meters, and taking account of the occupancy pattern.
  • Recording the internal temperature and relative humidity.
  • A further questionnaire to identify any further issues.

All of this monitoring and evaluation needs to be completed and reported back to the housing provider within six months of the completion of the property’s basic monitoring and evaluation report. The goal of this additional monitoring and evaluation is to establish exactly what might be causing the abnormalities in the previous report, as well as establishing the cost to the resident (be that in monetary or health terms).

This next level of monitoring cannot really be done through traditional surveys. The requirement for continuous data on internal temperature, relative humidity and fuel usage makes this unfeasible without the correct use of IoT technology. Switchee is the perfect product to satisfy these requirements. With its ability to track humidity, air pressure and temperature remotely, surveyor visits are not necessary for any of this information. It can also satisfy the requirement for an additional survey and can interface with smart meters to transmit the power data as well. All of this data is remotely transmitted to our servers where housing providers or their contractors can review and analyse the results. If the property is already fitted with a Switchee as part of the basic monitoring and evaluation, this also means that the data-gathering can be retrospective as our device will have been gathering the required information from the moment it was installed.

switchee-monitoring

  1. Advanced Monitoring and Evaluation

When the intermediate monitoring and evaluation could not present an adequate answer for the problems that might be persisting in a property, then advanced monitoring and evaluation are required. This is the highest form of property integration allotted in the PAS 2035 guidance and includes a variety of different data sets and tests:

  • A post-construction review to confirm exactly what was installed and whether the installation is consistent with the retrofit design.
  • A post-occupancy evaluation based on two detailed questionnaires carried out 12 months apart.
  • A thermographic survey of the property.
  • Monitoring of internal temperature, relative humidity, and carbon dioxide concentration for at least a year.
  • Monitoring of moisture levels within the building fabric.
  • Sub-metering of energy use by any new building services systems including ventilation, heating and hot water, lighting and any LZC or “renewable energy” technologies (e.g. solar thermal systems, solar photovoltaics) for at least a year.
  • Investigation of any defects revealed by any of the monitoring or surveys outlined in any of the monitoring and evaluation levels.

This level of monitoring and evaluation is reserved for the most difficult of properties - and should not be necessary in the vast majority of cases. However, when it is necessary this level of detailed analysis should reveal any of the underlying issues and give a very good indication of the true solution to these problems. This monitoring and the report it generates are required to be completed within two years after the first basic monitoring and evaluation has been completed. This report might also be required to be given to TrustMark, any funding organization and any guarantee provider. Whilst not all of this monitoring can be done entirely through Switchee’s smart thermostat and external sensors - it is capable of conducting a significant amount of the above tasks. The two detailed questionnaires can be delivered through Switchee’s messaging system - giving the highest possible response rate. The internal temperature and relative humidity can be monitored continuously with the installation of Switchee’s smart thermostat, and the carbon dioxide concentration can be monitored through our optional CO2 sensor. The moisture levels can also be monitored through Switchee’s sensors. All of this data, combined with the necessary surveyor visits in order to conduct the more invasive investigations, should be sufficient to build the advanced monitoring and evaluation report.

energy-clamps

Why is PAS 2035 important?

PAS 2035 represents the first real attempt by the government to improve the effectiveness of retrofit projects within social housing. This signals a couple of things. Firstly, that the government is interested in investing more money through grants and other vehicles into energy efficiency improvement projects over the next few years. Secondly, that data is going to form the backbone of this new strategy. As we have seen with the interest in ‘live’ EPC’s over the last couple of years, the government is beginning to look at live data as the holy grail of benchmarking tools. With PAS 2035, they are taking their first steps into mandating that for future government spending.

Summary

Basic Monitoring

Can Switchee Help?

Measure-specific questionnaire asking about the residents experience

Yes

Intermediate Monitoring

Can Switchee Help?

Review the previous report

No

Inspect the dwelling for installation mistakes and/or CDM

No

Post-installation air-tightness testing 

No

Monitor the resident’s fuel use and taking account of the occupancy pattern

Yes

Record the internal temperature and relative humidity

Yes

Measure-specific questionnaire

Yes

Advanced Monitoring

Can Switchee Help?

Post-construction review

No

Post-occupancy evaluation

Yes

Thermographic survey of the property

No

Monitoring of internal temperature, relative humidity, and carbon dioxide concentration for at least a year

Yes

Monitoring of moisture levels within the building fabric

No

Sub-metering of energy use by any new building services systems for at least a year

Yes

Investigation of any defects revealed

No

Alex Brodholt

Alex is Switchee's marketing lead. He has a BA (Honours) History International degree from the University of Leeds. Prior to Switchee, Alex worked for property tech startup Home Made as well as for Farmers Weekly Magazine and leading AgriTech business Proagrica.

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