Research Feature: Energy House
Supporting the UK’s Retrofit Agenda
A major problem facing the UK’s retrofit agenda has been highlighted by the Government:
“There are 26 million homes in the UK, and only 21 million minutes from now to 2050. So if we are going to make all our homes energy efficient by 2050, we need to fix up one house every 50 seconds, for the next 40 years”.
This is the challenge facing the UK in its ambitious attempts to reduce carbon emissions by 80% of the levels of 1990, one that the University of Salford is tackling head on.
A Victorian Terrace: a Unique Facility
Salford Energy House, Europe’s first and only research facility of its kind, provides a unique facility where interdisciplinary teams of leading academics from across the University can work collaboratively with business and the community in addressing these challenges.
The house – a pre 1910, Victorian-style terrace – has been reconstructed in an environmentally controllable chamber, in which levels of heat, light humidity and rain can be simulated and recreated time and time again.
Research in the Energy House is trans-disciplinary and multi-dimensional, exploring the technical, social and financial aspects of the carbon reduction agenda.
Persuading the Public
We are also investigating ways to support carbon reduction by encouraging the public to change the way they use energy.
What technology and solutions should people adopt and install? How do you convince them to change behaviour? These are just two of the questions that the cross disciplinary teams from the University of Salford are working on.
Through the Green Deal, the government is establishing a framework to enable private firms to offer consumers energy efficiency improvements to their homes, community spaces and businesses at no upfront cost; payments will be recouped through a charge in instalments on the energy bill. Individual households could be entitled up to £10k to spend on improving the energy efficiency of their homes.
University researchers are currently active in several projects – including EPSRC-funded ventures and Knowledge Transfer Partnerships – in this field:
- Professor Andy Steele, Dr Lisa Scullion and Dr Philip Brown from SHUSU – Salford Housing and Urban Studies Unit – are working with Bolton at Home (a Registered Social Landlord) to examine how low level interventions (information leaflets, text messages, face to face support) can best be deployed to achieve a reduction in energy demand.
Read more about the university's work with 'Bolton at Home'...
- Philip Brown is also working with the university’s Salford Centre for Research and Innovation (SCRI) on an EPSRC-funded project entitled ‘Fuel Poverty: bridging the socio-technical divide for low-income vulnerable households’ which looks at how low income, vulnerable households use retrofit technologies and how the interaction and/or the design of technologies can be more conducive to improve efficiency.
More information about how Philip Brown is helping low-income families increase their energy efficiency...
- SCRI’s Dr Will Swan works in a KTP with Fusion 21, a social business based in Merseyside, which promotes collaboration to save money and create jobs. The project examines both technical and social aspects of implementing sustainable retrofit to social housing.
Working in partnership to promote sustainable retrofitting...
- Dr Mike Hodson and Professor Tim May from SURF – Centre for Sustainable Urban and Regional Futures are working on an EPSRC-funded project on Urban Retrofit. This initiative asks how do cities develop the knowledge and capability to systemically reengineer their built environment and urban infrastructure in response to climate change and resource constraints?
Read more about the university’s work on urban retrofit...
We are also developing a bid in partnership with the Building Research Establishment (BRE) in this area and we are designing some experiments to be deployed in the Energy House to look at how changes in the house environment can influence energy use.
Collaborating with Business and Industry
Since its official launch in January 2010, the Energy House team has secured over £3m in grant funding to enable a range of research and enterprise projects to be undertaken; this includes several industry-funded PhD studentships.
Professor Nigel Mellors, Director of the Energy House, commented: “Since the launch of the Energy House…we have been overwhelmed by interest, not just from local business, but from leading international companies wanting to work collaboratively with us. The House has placed the University at the forefront of collaborative research and innovation within the low carbon agenda”.
To find out more, or to get involved, please contact Steve Waterworth, Energy Hub Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Energy House development is representative of the work being done under the ‘Energy’ theme, one of four cross-cutting interdisciplinary themes.