OWLS - Off-Site Wrap-Around Large Scale Retrofit


TSB/EPSRC

£667,219

Encraft, Solihull Community Housing and Beattie Passive

Professor Elena Gaura, Dr. Ross Wilkins and Dr. John Halloran.


OWLS is a collaboration between Cogent Labs, Encraft, Solihull Community Housing, and Beattie Passive. This project aims to develop a rapid, highly replicable, and innovative approach to external insulation of walls and roofs by applying modern methods of construction to retrofit, complemented by innovative approaches to performance monitoring.

Coventry University are performing work to monitor, through Wireless Sensor Networks, the environmental and energy performance of a block of flats pre- and post- retrofit. This will provide a robust evidence base to support commercialisation of the fully-costed whole-building solution.

The immediate beneficiaries of this project are social housing landlords and their tenants. Social landlords will benefit from cheap, easy-to-use, rigorous performance evaluation tools for retrofitted properties. Social landlords will also benefit from tools for occupier behaviour assessment and empowerment. The tenant engagement work provides tailored interventions over time whose efficacy can be objectively measured as part of the monitoring solution. Quantitative assessment of the value of retrofit improvements will help inform social landlord investment strategy when rolling out retrofit programmes. Such an integrated set of tools, which includes environmental-energy-behaviour quantifiers are not currently available for use at scale.

Social housing tenants will directly benefit from retrofit programmes through improvements to comfort and reductions in energy costs. The use of the tools developed by Coventry University can increase the impact of retrofits, through tenant liaison alongside the monitoring and evaluation: Cogent's work will show how retrofit value can be maximised through parallel behaviour change work. This will help ensure soft landings and maximise acceptance, behavioural adaptation to the effects of the retrofit, and satisfaction. These benefits should help, long term, to improve tenant quality of life and reduce voids and arrears.

The construction industry will benefit from performance evaluation of retrofits, through the use of the tools and interventions proposed here, to accurately gauge the potential of new products in terms of energy savings and CO2 reductions, enabling better informed commercialisation and making the industry more competitive internationally. Indirectly, the wider community will benefit from (a) the overall reduced energy costs associated with housing; (b) social improvements due to reduction of fuel poverty; (c) environmental improvements associated with reduced CO2 emissions due to the housing sector; and (d) tenants with transferrable occupancy skills who understand and know how to live in retrofit properties.