BRE and Willmott Dixon project to retrofit of a 1920s semi-detached house
On 6 April 2016, construction and property services company Willmott Dixon announced a research project with BRE (Building Research Establishment) and the Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation to create a blueprint for improving the energy efficiency of older properties. Ref Project aims to help period properties save thousands in fuel costs.
By retrofitting a 1920s semi-detached home in Letchworth they will create a template for improving the efficiency and reducing the fuel costs of other pre-war homes.
The house was first assessed to determine its baseline energy performance, then performance specification options were developed in line with current government regulations and more ambitious carbon and energy reduction targets.
The works, which are a compromise between improving the property’s energy efficiency and preserving its character, will include; installing wood fibre internal wall insulation, new windows, solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, waste water heat recovery and demand-controlled ventilation.
Its performance will then be monitored for 12 months to determine its energy use, internal conditions, the performance of its design features and the experience of its residents. A similar unmodified property will also be assessed to provide a comparison. It is hoped that the results will help develop a rationale for investment in the retrofit of other heritage and older properties.
BRE project manager Steven Stenlund said, “The aim of this project has been to plug the knowledge gaps on how best to make heritage homes like these more energy efficient without compromising on their unique character. The learning derived from the demonstrator home will benefit local homeowners and will have broader national applications as we continue to drive down the energy use and carbon emissions from existing homes.”
Willmott Dixon’s Rob Lambe said, “With over a quarter of the UK’s total carbon emissions coming from our homes and a fifth of households living in fuel poverty, it’s really important to ensure domestic properties are as energy efficient as possible. With a large number of older and heritage properties in the UK, there is a particular need to explore a range of options that will help people to keep warm and save energy while protecting the characteristics of these buildings.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Anatomy of low carbon retrofits: evidence from owner-occupied superhomes.
- Cavity wall insulation
- Ecobuild 2016 - Making the business case for large scale retrofit investment.
- Energy companies obligation ECO.
- Energy Performance Certificates.
- Fabric first.
- Fuel poverty
- Heat Energy: The Nation’s Forgotten Crisis.
- Housing contribution to regeneration.
- New energy retrofit concept: ‘renovation trains’ for mass housing.
- Renovation v refurbishment v retrofit.
- Retrofit coordinator.
- Retrofit, refurbishment and the growth of connected HVAC technology.
- Solid wall insulation.
- The cold man of europe 2015.
- The real cost of poor housing.
Featured articles and news
UK-GBC green paper proposes more powers for cities on new-build housing.
The Pompidou Centre – not a monument but an event.
The Chartered Institute of Building restructures and launches 29 new local hubs.
Designing Buildings Wiki talks to the founder of the world's first indoor biophilic gym, now open in London.
£1.3bn Swansea Bay project to be backed as a 'pathfinder' for other tidal lagoon projects.
Designs released for a proposed Las Vegas stadium to entice the Oakland Raiders.
Have a look at these award-winning concept designs for a thermal bath in Latvia.
Flagship project no longer "a going concern" according to the Garden Bridge Trust as funding slows.
How the work of 20th century urbanist Jane Jacobs continues to resonate in light of the government's garden village plans.
New landmark for the Ecuadorean capital of Quito utilises a sinuous facade mold system.
Have a look at this glass piano and violin building in China.