Advanced low carbon refurbishment

Oxford whole house carbon reduction project

The project is a joint venture between Oxford Brookes University, Ridge Property and Construction consultants and Oxford City Council.

Introduction

Findings from this refurbishment project will help drive Government decisions on ways to make large-scale carbon reductions with improvements to the entire existing housing stock across the UK. There are some 26 million homes in the UK and their energy use accounts for 27 per cent of total UK CO2 emissions. Of those 26 million properties, it is estimated three-quarters will still be in use by 2050.

Eco House

Press coverage

National and local coverage:

Objectives

The project is funded by the Government's Technology Strategy Board (TSB) as part of its nationwide Retrofit for the Future Programme and will show how an older house can reach Government targets of an 80 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050. Using a so-called 'fabric-first' approach, a number of energy-saving measures have been installed at the Nelson Street property including: advanced levels of insulation to reduce heat loss, advanced airtightness membranes and tapes to reduce air leakages and draughts, triple glazing, a highly efficient gas fired boiler for central heating with integrated controls, a monodraught suncatcher allowing natural light and ventilation into the centre of the house and low energy lighting and appliances, combined with a solar hot water system heating the water and a solar photovoltaic system generating electricity.

Nelson Street house

Achievements

The couple living in the Victorian terraced, test-case home in Oxford have seen their energy consumption cut by 85 per cent and should see bills drop from £600 a year to about £150 as part of a research project into ways of reducing CO2 emission from energy used in existing UK housing stock. The occupants commented: "The house is much warmer now after the refurbishment and we are enjoying all the benefits of the work that has been carried out."

The Oxford Brookes team is led by Professor Rajat Gupta, an internationally-recognised expert in architecture and climate change, and Director of the Low Carbon Building Group in the School of Architecture. Rajat is leading a two-year study to evaluate actual energy consumption and environmental performance as well as resident satisfaction and perception. Together with Research Associate, Matt Gregg, Rajat will discover how the occupants adapt to their revamped home.

Prof Rajat Gupta

In April 2008 Oxford City Council agreed a carbon management plan called 'getting our house in order'. The main goal of the scheme was to reduce the Council's CO2 emissions by 25 per cent by March 2011, and transform Oxford into a low carbon city.

"This house is so well insulated that heat losses are minimised to a level that has never been achieved before. The next step is to look at doing this with entire streets."

Graham Blackburn, Partner For Property and Construction consultants, said: "We learned many valuable lessons from undertaking the project, the 80% reduction is a huge target for existing properties and we discovered many interesting facts particularly about the combination of effective retrofit solutions, their actual cost and with the energy data being collected the real cost of carbon saved....such valuable information is applicable for many types of existing buildings."

Councillor John Tanner, Board Member for a Cleaner, Greener Oxford, said: "This is a fantastic project where we worked with our partners to produce a house that is now environmental and carbon efficient. We have a great track record in tackling carbon emissions in the city and I hope this house is the start of a programme of work across the city."

PROJECT STAFF

CONTACT DETAILS

Professor Rajat Gupta

Low Carbon Building Group

Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development
Oxford Brookes University
Headington Campus
Gipsy Lane
Oxford OX33 1HX
United Kingdom

rgupta@brookes.ac.uk