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Thursday, 19 June 2014

Retrofitting housing to cut down on energy use - the options

The Building Research & Information journal published a paper this week comparing the size of UK and Continental homes:
Futures Forum: How much space do you have to live in - compared to the Continent? How are we taxing that space in the UK? And are you getting value for money from the estate agents?

The journal has just produced a special issue looking at the whole issue of retrofitting housing: 

Special Issue: Energy retrofits of owner-occupied homes
Taylor & Francis Online :: Building Research & Information - Volume 42, Issue 4

There are several papers covering several key aspects, for example:

Impacts of community-led energy retrofitting of owner-occupied dwellings
Community-led approaches have emerged in the UK as an alternative route for realizing reductions in domestic energy demand through changes in homeowners' understanding and behaviours when coupled with physical retrofitting. 
27 owner-occupied homes across six low carbon communities (LCCs):
Results indicate that the energy retrofits have been reasonably effective in terms of reducing energy use in dwellings (75% of homes experienced reductions in gas and/or electricity use). 
The LCCs appear particularly successful in facilitating the households, through increased motivations, capability, awareness and knowledge relating to energy use and behaviours. 
Insights from the study can help to inform future strategy implementation for reducing energy demand from existing housing to meet national CO2 targets.

Taylor & Francis Online
Futures Forum: Exeter Community Energy launched


Retrofitting owner-occupied housing: remember the people

Energy use in buildings accounts for almost 40% of all CO2 emissions in the European Union and other developed countries. The building sector, and especially the housing sector, is often identified as providing the largest potential for CO2 reduction (European Commission, 2006). Although it may be questioned whether the potential is really that big, and whether it is reasonable to place the major burden for CO2 reductions on the building sector, there is no doubt that reduction of CO2 emissions from buildings is of major importance. 
In discussions on low energy architecture, the focus is often on new buildings and their potential for reducing or eliminating energy consumption, particularly for space heating and cooling purposes. This is evident in zero-emission buildings and passive houses. 
However, the largest potential for energy reductions in most developed countries is within the existing buildings. The longevity of buildings and the building stock (typically 50–100 years) means that for a very long time ahead the majority of the building stock will be constituted by buildings from before the current era of low energy regulation.

Inspiring low-energy retrofits: the influence of ‘open home’ events

‘Eco open home’ events showcase environmentally sustainable home renovations and retrofits. 
Drawing on a wide range of visitor survey datasets, these community-led and locally situated events are analyzed from a social learning perspective, focusing on the visitor experiences, and the role that open home events have as situated learning, embracing the power of storytelling. 
Using a ‘Many Sets of Data’ approach, data are examined from three years of Australia's largest eco open home event, and visitor survey and interview reports from seven different UK eco open home events, highlighting visitor characteristics and experiences, and post-visit levels of technology adoption and behaviour change. 
The research finds a consistent positive experience for attendees, most of whom are homeowners already engaged on their journey of eco-home renovation. The high degree of satisfaction from attending eco open home events, combined with the high rates of perceived learning, and the track record of post-event renovation action demonstrate that these events encourage and support engaged attendees to undertake low-energy renovations.

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