Low-carbon housing technologies in Britain

Low-carbon housing technologies in Britain

The task of making Britain’s existing homes greener will be boosted with the launch of a £17m government initiative to trial different low-carbon housing technologies in projects across the United Kingdom.

Eighty-seven social housing units will be retrofitted with the different packages of techniques to make them more energy-efficient and produce fewer CO2 emissions.
Around 27 per cent of the UK’s carbon emissions come from the housing sector, with social housing comprising almost 20 per cent of UK homes.

“We have to tackle the existing housing stock. Two-thirds of the houses we’ll be living in in 2050 have already been built, and we need to make these radically more efficient,” said Richard Miller of the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), one of the government-backed agencies funding the project. “No one knows what to do so we’re trying to find some solutions that we can prove work.”

For specific buildings
While the individual technologies to make homes greener are well known, Miller said, very little is known about how best to integrate different solutions for specific buildings. “The bits exist but we need to build packages that work together.”
Each of the 87 projects will receive around £150,000 to demonstrate the deep cuts in CO2 emissions required to help the UK meet its commitment to cutting carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

They will all then be monitored for two years by the Energy Saving Trust (EST), which will collect data on internal and external temperatures, humidity and CO2 emissions.
“This project will provide real insight into what is actually achievable today with existing and new-to-market technologies,” said Alex Stuart of the Energy Saving Test, which collects the data.

“Understanding what technologies and measures work best, where they work best or which properties are best suited to specific technologies or measures. It will enhance understanding of what technologies and measures work best in combination, and whether savings are cumulative or whether there is a point of diminishing returns.”
He added: “This is real testing in real life, in real people’s homes. “How can we help to improve the UK housing stock to be as energy-efficient as possible, making it habitable, liveable and affordable?”

Retrofitting property
In London, the Hyde Group will retrofit a property in Eltham. The building will benefit from substantial internal insulation, mechanical ventilations with heat-recovery fans, and an intelligent heating system that learns the residents’ living patterns and only switches on hot water and heating as required.

The good and bad points of each of the 87 social housing units will be made available as a database for researchers, landlords, architects and builders. “If you’ve got 10,000 properties to upgrade in 20 years, what do you do? “If you can look at 100 attempts in the database, you can choose,” said Miller.

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