Homes must be converted to zero carbon if targets are to be met

Almost any home could have its carbon footprint reduced to zero and measures to convert them should start immediately if government targets are to be met, a building performance expert has claimed.

Dr Lubo Jankovic, from the Birmingham City University’s School of Architecture & Centre for Low Carbon Research, argues that to meet ambitious targets of reducing emission by 2025, 95% of existing housing stock needs to be made eco-compliant.

The findings were revealed from research recently carried out at the University on a model ‘zero carbon home’. Dr Jankovic and his team have been working on instrumental monitoring and post-occupancy evaluation of the Birmingham Zero Carbon House, a carbon-neutral building based on 170-year-old redbrick Victorian house.

He said: “Technology to make our homes more energy efficient are not new, for example using more insulation or installing energy renewable systems such as solar panels. Done right this has the potential of 90% return on investment over a 25-year lifecycle – but if you get it wrong, then it could end up adding extra cost of about the same amount.”

To ensure new eco-modifications are carried to maximum efficiency, Dr Jankovic says that builders and contractors have to work in a more holistic manner with designers who use advanced simulation modelling. “At the moment everything is done in silos, but if there was more joined-up thinking it would make a big difference.”

Existing 3-D modelling and simulation software can already test a building’s environmental vulnerability. But the research has developed a method to virtually integrate the various energy-saving systems to accurately predict their eco-value over a set time period.

According to Dr Jankovic, when this method is applied a return of investment can be demonstrated and mortgage-lenders or other agencies could then make an informed decision when looking at the benefits of upgrading a particular home or building.

Maxine Perella

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