The Scottish Government set out ambitious plans in 2007 to build more low carbon homes although house builders have felt little pressure from home buyers. The bigger challenge is in retrofitting existing properties.
A block of four flats has been built by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) at its Innovation Park @Ravenscraig. Two other countries took part in the European ERACO STAR project: the Belgian Building Research Centre, Passief Huis Platform, Belgium and Lund University, Sweden.
The block of flats replicates around 265,000 homes built across Scotland in the 1930s and over three million in England. The original ‘4 in a block’ buildings had two flats on the ground floor and two on the first, and were built to replace the slums, very much in the style of the times.
The local council was required to approve planning for the project even though the construction methods broke current building regulations.
Each of the four apartments were then refurbished using different approaches to provide four upgrade sustainable renovation options.
The retrofitted homes will be monitored to see which is the most effective upgrade, taking into account the different materials and technologies used, as well as the cost effectiveness of the refurbishments, and such things as indoor air quality and acoustics.
The home upgrades range from external insulation cladding and replacement windows to a home with solar panels and air source heat pump. The cost comparison between the cheapest and most expensive upgrade was around threefold.
As part of the project, the BRE released an iPad app which allows users to apply different products to the apartments and see what the resultant effects might be in energy performance and costs. The app offers a number of other design options in addition to the four that have actually been built.
If you’re buying a property that has been refurbished, a Chartered Surveyor will take into account the work that has been carried out. To contact a local Chartered Surveyor visit www.PropertySurveying.co.uk.