Increasing fuel costs, a rising number of homes in fuel poverty, and a government pledge to decrease carbon emissions in housing by 80% by 2050, mean that reducing energy use within the home has become a key objective for all social housing organisations.
There is now much activity to reduce energy consumption in domestic buildings.
There are two major means of addressing this: (1) to construct new buildings in more energy efficient ways, using improved fabric and systems; and (2) to ‘retrofit’ existing homes with new technologies, which can include, for example, solar panels or other renewable technologies.
However, despite such activity, it is often the case that buildings (whether newbuild or retrofit) fail to deliver the predicted performance gains.
Moreover, there are a lack of tools available to builders, contractors, homeowners and housing associations to help measure performance once the work has been completed, in order to assess value and quantify the energy reductions which can realistically be expected.
Building on a relationship that has developed over a number of years, Coventry University’s Cogent Computing Applied Research Centre has been working with a social housing organisation, Orbit Heart of England, on a project to assess the real impact of retrofit technologies on energy reduction as well as the performance of new builds.
This will support and inform efforts to meet government targets for low carbon housing.
The Approach and Solution
Cogent has designed, built and deployed appropriate low cost, easy to use instrumentation to measure energy consumption, carbon emissions, and environmental factors including temperature, humidity and air quality in newbuild and retrofit homes.
Alongside this, software has been created to collect and analyse data. Cogent has developed new metrics to assess and diagnose performance, as well as to make comparative assessment of properties. This generates knowledge on what are the most effective retrofit technologies and newbuild methods, based on real performance in use. This knowledge is also essential in setting realistic performance expectations for occupied buildings.
Key to the success of the monitoring systems developed by Cogent is their ability to quantify the added value in terms of both comfort and reduction of the energy footprint in any high specification dwelling.
The project has resulted in the production of an end-to-end monitoring system product, which has been deployed in over 70 properties. The largest deployment is at a newbuild development of 23 homes. The information extracted from the data brought considerable financial benefits to Orbit and the actions taken based on that data saved households over £250 in bills per annum.
Orbit is now pursuing a variety of initiatives contributing towards reduction of the housing carbon footprint. The Cogent monitoring system is supporting Orbit in making informed, cost-effective decisions on retrofit refurbishments for existing properties; as well as leading edge construction methods for newbuild low energy housing.
To discuss how we can work with you, please contact Dr James Brusey, Cogent Computing Applied Research Centre: firstname.lastname@example.org