25th January, 2022
The Greener Futures Partnership (GFP), a collaboration between five housing providers, has launched an energy efficiency research project with specialist housing consultancy Altair.
With the housing sector facing its biggest energy efficiency challenge, and five million homes to be upgraded by 2050 (an average of nearly 500 a day), the project will conduct research into improved methods of measuring the energy efficiency of homes.
The majority of housing associations and local authorities have designed their energy efficiency programmes around the SAP modelling system, and the short-term target of bringing all homes to a minimum energy efficiency level of EPC Band C by 2030.
While target SAP ratings remain an important element of defining net zero, there is a growing appreciation of the limits of SAP as a measurement tool. The variety of factors included within the SAP methodology make it harder to identify the measures that have the greatest impact on the thermal efficiency of a home.
This is further complicated when using the simplified SAP version (RdSAP) for existing homes, which further reduces the understanding of heat flow, as well as overlooking higher room temperatures are needed to offset coolness from uninsulated walls.
One alternative measurement approach is to focus on the space heating demand metric, which considers the amount of active heat input required to heat a building. The tool helps measure the effectiveness of a building’s fabric and is being increasingly used across the social housing sector.
Altair will look at this and the different forms of energy efficiency measurement the social housing sector could use against properties. This will inform a pilot applying alternative methodologies to a selection of GFP’s homes – managed by Sanctuary, Abri, Anchor, Home Group and the Hyde Group.
Donna Williams, Director of Sustainability for Sanctuary, said: “We have been asking ourselves within the GFP what are the best forms of energy efficiency measurement, and of those what are the limitations and how can we overcome them?
“Through this research project we hope to learn more about specific energy efficiency measurements and how these can help the GFP, and wider sector, inform its strategic decision making and meet the net zero carbon challenge.”