University of Brighton’s Phil Mills put out an exciting press release yesterday about green social housing schemes.
The University is coordinating a 6.3m Euro scheme to equip social housing schemes in the UK and France with energy systems that combat climate change.
Professor Mike McEvoy, from the university’s School of Architecture and Design, is co-ordinating Innovation for Renewal (IFORE) which is being financed by the European Regional Development Fund’s Interreg programme.
This pioneering project is a partnership including two large and innovative housing associations, Amicus Horizon from the UK and Pas-de-Calais Habitat in France, and scientists specialising in building from the Université d’Artois. Pas-de-Calais Habitat has a wealth of experience of the technical issues involved whilst Amicus Horizon is contributing its skills in community engagement.
IFORE will search for the most efficient low-carbon methods by trialling different systems in 100 homes on the Isle of Sheppey, off the Kent coast, and in houses at Outreau near Boulogne on the northern coast of France.
Batches of homes will be fitted with different renewable-energy systems, such as solar thermal and solar electricity systems, eventually the approach could be rolled out in thousands of homes in the UK and France.
Professor McEvoy, professor of architecture at the university, said the target is to reduce carbon use in the homes by 80 per cent:
”New building regulations for 2016 will insist on zero carbon in new-builds but we must also look for the best ways to reduce carbon emissions in existing dwellings.”
Because the rate of replacement of a nation’s housing stock is a slow process, he said, plans were underway for extensive retrofit programmes across Europe so that existing homes meet future energy standards.
He said: “This is particularly topical in the UK and France where choices have yet to be made between the various technical options. The public housing stock in Kent and Pas-de-Calais includes a large number of older properties in need of improvement. Apart from insulation, two crucial questions arise when upgrading them to eco-construction standards – the construction must be air-tight with adequate ventilation, and renewable energy sources should be introduced to meet carbon emission reduction targets. IFORE will identify optimal performance and payback times for ventilation and renewable energy solutions for the housing stock adjoining both sides of the Channel.”
Housing professionals and university teams, through a series of meetings and workshops, will identify equivalent house types in Kent and Pas-de-Calais to be surveyed for air-tightness and heat loss.
Professor McEvoy said that from this data, computer simulation models of the dwellings would be built by university researchers. The model predictions will identify the three or four best options of those modelled for the upgrade of 200 selected dwellings, around 100 in each country.
The buildings will be retrofitted and monitored to measure their relative energy consumption before and after the interventions. The results will be used by the academic partners to determine the relative success of each of the approaches.
The study will also look at tenants’ interaction with the technologies and involvement with the process, an aspect in which Amicus Horizon have particular expertise. This is important because the actual energy performance achieved will be very dependent on the lifestyle of the inhabitants and their engagement with the project.
Collaborative methods will encourage the tenants to become actively involved in the renewal of their homes and in their energy performances.
Professor McEvoy said the large-scale study will pave the way for the introduction, and industrialisation, of very low carbon solutions: “It will guide the future retrofit of 10,000 dwellings, out of a total of 66,000 homes for both housing associations after the project’s completion, and help guide national policy in both countries.”
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