A new project to convert social housing into energy efficient smart homes has led to energy usage being reduced by over 80%.
The pilot scheme, named Retrofit Plus, was undertaken by Beattie Passive alongside Birmingham City University, InteSys Ltd and iZDesign to investigate how homes could slash heating energy bills and take low-income households out of fuel poverty.
Last year, Birmingham City Council gave the project two semi-detached houses in the Shard End area of Birmingham. Despite the alterations carried out, residents were able to continue living in the properties for the duration of the work.
The energy efficient measures introduced included the installation of Beattie Passive’s TCosy Deep Retrofit system, which insulates an entire building by installing a timber frame structure completely around the homes and injecting insulation material into the walls and roof cavity.
This process eliminates heat loss and makes the buildings draught free and can be retrofitted to refurbish existing homes.
Triple-glazed windows and doors plus a mechanical ventilation and heat recovery system were installed.
The homes also saw high-tech sensors and controls fitted, which automatically regulate the houses’ temperatures as well as learning and reacting to residents’ usage habits.
The whole insulation system was built to low-energy Passivhaus standards, providing advanced energy and comfort levels.
Birmingham City University provided simulation design analysis of the houses, tracked their carbon outputs and InteSys Ltd developed a predictive control system, which learns physical characteristics of the building and delivers the right amount of heat at the right time.
Design simulation models were created through an extensive pre-retrofit survey, which included the use of thermal imaging and 3D laser scanning. The models were then used to examine the optimal method to achieve a zero-carbon rating and monitor the changes in energy consumption.
It is hoped the project will lead to increased value of housing stock for councils and regenerate areas of deprivation by also fitting homes with high quality new facades.
The houses have now been returned to Birmingham City Council but their energy use will continue to be monitored until later this summer.
Professor Lubo Jankovic, Head of the Zero Carbon Lab at Birmingham City University’s School of Architecture and Design, said: “Retrofit plus has been shown to reduce heating energy consumption and carbon emissions by 80 per cent, saving money for residents and providing a process suitable for a UK-wide scaling-up.
“Our experience from this project shows that there is a behaviour change with occupants with increased internal temperatures and fewer warm clothes needed in winter. This approach improves health and wellbeing of occupants and positively changes their lives.”