Project Calebre

Supplementary content information

Addressing the domestic energy refurbishment challenge.

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Professor Dennis Loveday - Project CALEBRE Principal Investigator, Loughborough University [DL]

Some houses are more challenging to refurbish than others for energy efficiency, the so called 'hard to heat, hard to treat' properties. Houses like these have solid walls which are more challenging to insulate compared with simply filling a cavity. There are about eight million properties like this in the UK and there are lots of other issues too, not only to do with the technologies that we can install for energy efficiency, but also to do with our attitude to refurbishment and our appetite for change.

To explore these issues project CALEBRE came together, a partnership of the UK's leading six universities. Our aim was to investigate a suite of technologies informed by family lifestyles and to come up with solutions that are appealing, energy-effective and easy to retrofit.

Dr Vicky Haines - Head of User Centred Design Research Group, Loughborough University [VH]

It's really important to understand what householders want. We have technical solutions that can save energy, but if they are not appealing and acceptable to householders then they are never going to be taken up and they won't be successful. People have very complex and busy lives. Refurbishment has to fit within these so there are social and technical barriers that have to be overcome. We went into households and asked them about what they had done to their houses since they moved in. We asked them about the type of measures they had put in, how long had it taken, any problems they'd had, whether they had to move out and we sat with people and essentially drew up a map of their life in their house so that we could understand all the barriers and all the goals and aspirations they had about their home.

[DL]

We've advanced this technology with new, less expensive, patented edge seals, making it cheaper for future mass production. It's also slimmer than double glazing and so could become more appealing for older properties with cherished window features.

Professor Mark Gillott - Co-director, Institute of Sustainable Energy Technology, University of Nottingham [MG]

This is the E-ON test house; this is the home that we've been using for all the field trials on the CALEBRE project. The unique thing about the house here is the instrumentation level we have, to understand the energy consumption patterns of the family that have been living here when we have been undertaking the field trials. An example of one of the field trials we've done is looking at how air tightness can be achieved in an existing home.

[DL]

Our findings come at a time when the Government's Green-Deal has just been launched. We now know a lot more about the needs of householders, especially those living in older properties and how that can inform future energy efficiency refurbishment. We know that order of retrofit matters, we know more about air tightness in older properties and how to do this better in a retrofit context, and how air tightness can work with mechanical ventilation with heat recovery. We know more about heat pumps and vacuum glazing and how these can be made for ease of retrofit, the mass manufacturing features needed to bring them to commercial success and also simpler passive moisture control might one day become a commercial reality.

For the future we seek to continue research on the work streams that are underway, to take in and investigate wider questions in support of national refurbishment and to develop to commercial success the technologies that we have advanced during the last four and a half years.

We look forward to working with you in helping the UK to achieve its national carbon reduction target.