A Brighton University academic is heading a £5 million scheme to make British and French housing more energy efficient.
Professor Mike McEvoy, from the university’s School of Architecture and Design, is co-ordinating a project called Innovation for Renewal.
He will work with two big housing associations – one British, one French – and scientists specialising in building from the Université d’Artois.
The project will involve homes being fitted with different renewable energy systems, such as solar thermal and solar electricity systems. Insulation methods will also be tested.
Professor McEvoy, professor of architecture at the university, said that the target was to reduce carbon use in the homes by 80 per cent.
He said: “New regulations for 2016 will insist on zero carbon in new-builds but we must also look for the best ways to reduce carbon emissions in existing dwellings.”
Because the rate of replacement of a nation’s housing stock is a slow process, he said, plans were under way for extensive retrofit programmes across Europe. In this way, existing homes could meet future energy standards.
He said: “This is particularly topical in the UK and France where choices have yet to be made between the various technical options.”
The project will identify the best performance and payback times for ventilation and renewable energy solutions for the housing stock on both sides of the Channel.
Housing professionals and university teams, through a series of meetings and workshops, will identify equivalent house types in Kent and Pas-de-Calais to be surveyed for air-tightness and heat loss.
Professor McEvoy said that university researchers would then use the survey data to build computer simulation models of the homes and work out the best options.
The housing associations are Amicus Horizon and Pas-de-Calais Habitat.
The French team has more experience of the technical issues, while Amicus Horizon will lead the way on testing tenants’ reactions to the different technologies.
Tenants’ ability to accept and deal with low-carbon technologies and any lifestyle changes that they make will affect the outcomes.
Professor McEvoy said that the large-scale study will pave the way for the introduction and industrialisation of better low-carbon solutions.
He said: “It will guide the future retrofit of 10,000 dwellings, out of a total of 66,000 homes for both housing associations after the project’s completion, and help guide national policy in both countries.”
The project is being financed by the European Regional Development Fund.
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