Upgrading Existing Homes

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Monday, 21 January 2013 21:25

The Bath Project

Included here are extracts form the media of a recent retro fit project carried out by Clean footprint Ltd

The project in 16 Pultney Gardens, Bath, is particularly significant due to the fact that Bath is aiming to become the retrofit Capitol of the UK .With groups such as Transition Bath and The "Green Doors" initiative in Bristol, the retrofit movement is certainly gathering momentum!

Ozzie and Mary Field have bought a typical Victorian terraced house in Bath. This is a brief description of their on-going journey to 'retrofit their home' and so live more lightly upon the planet.

UpgradingWhy did you choose to upgrade your home?
We are doing a retro refit "because we can".
For us it was the ever-present and clear threat of climate change, particularly in the developing world that was the driving force behind the decision to reduce our carbon footprint.
As we explored the processes further we realised there are many attractive incentives such as the prospect of greater self reliance and reduced fuel bills. As time goes by the price of fuel will go up. We are now on fixed incomes so the proportion of our spending money required for fuel will increase and our spending money will go down.
As we had already begun to downsize it seemed the most logical next step to increase our efficiency.

How did you start the process?
We began by considering building work to allow more sunlight into our new house. The back faces South, yet was in use as a toilet and coal shed. Then we decided to take the opportunity to eco-refit the property. We began by investigating similar schemes which were hard to find. Eventually, we found the precedents and contacts and had all of the necessary information to get the ball rolling.

Research was not easy, for example finding professionals who could explain to us what they could do to assist us. Useful information was obtained from Eco exhibitions and websites such as the Camden project, about a 'Victorian house for the future', and the T-Zero project, an example of a retro fit of a solid walled property.

Choosing the team
Not all building professionals will be capable of undertaking and advising upon such works... You must choose your team carefully and do your research. Clean Footprint was appointed as the main contractor aiming from the beginning to exceed current minimum legal requirements. Indeed, building regulations will be revised upwards in a few years, therefore, the easiest time to consider a full retrofit of your property is when moving or working on your home.

What Measures are you taking?

  •  Insulation not just in the roof space. It is not so difficult to do the walls and under the floor as well. After all it is the most cost effective way of reducing fuel bills.
  •  Air tightness measures around open space and windows.
  •  Mechanical Ventilation and Heat Recovery for controlled fresh and warm air.
What Measures to take  •  A highly efficient gas fire for occasional use.
  •  Solar hot water panels combined with efficient domestic hot water.
  •  A Condensing 'A' rated boiler.
  •  Zoning and advanced heating controls to use heat where it is needed.
  •  Under floor heating as a base to ensure a comfortable temperature.
  •  A wood & multifuel stove for direct space heating.
  •  Triple Glazed windows with argon gas filling to achieve a U-value of 1.0.
  •  A fully glazed south side to allow for solar gain.
  •  Low Energy Light bulbs and appliances.

What progress have you made?
Construction started in March 2010 and building works are now in progress to make the best of the south facing aspect. The eco refit is underway including all measures suggested in the SAP report. The builders are making great progress and we expect to move in by the end of June or at the beginning of July. The journey so far has been an educational and exciting experience.

The inefficient gas boiler and living room fire have now gone and the solar panels are on the roof. The new boiler, tank and related kit are in position, and some radiators in place, with a gadget to deal with Bath's hard water. The walls have now new insulation while in the roof the rafters have been deepened by a couple of inches to take thick insulation board. The contractors have cleaned the removed stone for reuse.

How will this benefit you in the future?
Benefit in the futureAs we are concerned about our negative effect upon the world we are glad to have the chance to reduce our footprint. A good measure of this is the Code for Sustainable Homes which consider the building and life it supports holistically. The ffields are aiming for Level 5 of the energy sections of the code. Overall we hope for an improved quality of living, both for ourselves and, ideally, globally.

This is an idea embodied in the Transition movement principles: moving from an unsustainable way of living and using better the Earth's resources. We are convinced that this is a worthwhile investment; there will be energy savings, lower emissions and a reduction in associated costs.

With energy efficiency and carbon environmental impact going up the ffields are working towards a future for all. This will require additional adjustments to their lifestyle, regarding transport and patterns of food consumption–other aspects of the Transitions movement programme. It fits also with our national policy, the surest way to increase energy security is to design for less energy consumption in the first place. Energy conservation measures, which can result in significant financial savings, higher comfort levels and health benefits for UK citizens.

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South West Built Environment Awards 2011 Winner


Published in Clean Footprint
Monday, 21 January 2013 20:22




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