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First bricks laid at ground breaking Energy House

Published: Tuesday, 24 August 2010

First bricks laid at ground breaking Energy House

Yesterday (Monday, 23 August) work commenced on the University of Salford's unique 'Energy House' as the first bricks were laid on what will become the first test house in the world to be constructed inside an environmentally controlled chamber.

Once completed, the house will be subjected to some of the most advanced energy experiments ever conducted on a residential property.

University experts will carry out a huge range of tests inside the house to gauge how its energy consumption varies depending on changeable factors and conditions.

The testing chamber will feature a unique climate system which will generate a range of snow, rain, wind and humidity conditions - which, unlike other test properties, are not dependent on that day's weather.

By studying the different ways the house consumes energy, the University will be able to devise ways to improve its efficiency. But, beyond simply testing new types of insulation, double glazing and low-energy appliances, Salford's unique cross-disciplinary approach to the study of energy will see the University's psychologists, health experts and sociologists working alongside designers, engineers and scientists to devise sustainable solutions.

Salford's ground-breaking approach is a response to the sustainability challenge presented by the UK's ageing housing stock - 70% of current residential properties will still be inhabited in 2050 and 91% of all UK homes would benefit substantially from improvements in energy efficiency. Improved insulation and boiler upgrades alone could see heating emissions reduced by 22%.

The country's least efficient properties were predominantly constructed prior to 1920. These currently make up 15% of UK homes but actually account for 23% of total notional C02 emissions. Of these dwellings, more than 2m, are the two-up, two-down terraced-style that the University will be studying closely.

Professor Ghassan Aouad, the University's Pro-Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation, laid the first bricks. He said: "I'm delighted that work is now underway on the Energy House. This is an exciting time for Salford as we have the chance to focus our significant research capability to tackle the issues associated with reducing carbon emissions from the built environment."

Present at the bricklaying ceremony were partner organisations including the North West Development Agency (NWDA) and representatives from Manchester's Low Carbon Economic Area.

Dan Griffiths, the NWDA's Head of Climate Change, said: "To meet the targets for carbon reduction we will have to see a significant expansion in retrofitting of existing housing stock. This project will pave the way for Salford and the North West to take a real lead."

Nigel Mellors, Associate Dean, University of Salford, added: "The Energy House that we are developing provides a focus for teams of interdisciplinary academics to work collaboratively with our local partners to develop products and solutions for tackling climate change."

Michael O'Doherty, from the Greater Manchester Low Carbon Economic Area, said: "There are tens of thousands of Victorian 'hard to heat' terraced homes across Greater Manchester. These homes will need major improvement and investment if we are to limit increases in household energy bills and to meet challenging carbon reduction targets in the future.

"The Salford Energy House will provide a fantastic resource to test the latest energy efficiency measures, materials and technologies under a range of climatic conditions, before we deliver these at scale across homes in Greater Manchester."

The house is due for completion at the beginning of next year, when it will be opened alongside a landmark business conference on retrofit issues.

Photo shows L-R: Dan Griffiths, NWDA; Professor Ghassan Aouad; Michael O'Doherty, Manchester's Low Carbon Economic Area and Lisa Young, NWDA

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