Image: 216073801 © Francesco Scatena | Dreamstime.com

Technology

Net zero evaluation tool for homes seeks funding

5 May 2021

The developers of a tool and process for assessing and verifying new homes’ environmental performance are seeking funding to develop and proof a prototype and bring the tool to market.

The developers have developed their own IP and added it to an existing analogue building performance evaluation system known as the assured performance process (APP), originally developed by the National Energy Foundation and piloted successfully on Radian Housing Association’s 400-unit Quebec Park development in Whitehill & Bordon, Hampshire’s green town. They now want to digitise it and make it available, ideally as an open source tool to the industry.

The developers include the Good Homes Alliance (GHA), the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE Services), Loughborough University, architect Pollard Thomas Edwards, software developer Underscore, the National Energy Foundation, and the Active Building Centre.

Julian Brooks, programmes director at the GHA, explained: “On Quebec Park, the process helped to reduce the performance gap between predicted and actual energy use to within 5%.

“The GHA is focused on eradicating the performance gap. We’re all about quality, and net zero. We have two member networks of 21 local authorities and six housing associations that are due to deliver 12,000 new homes a year for the next 10 years that are asking for this sort of assistance.

“We want to help our members and the industry to deliver real, verified net-zero housing – and you can only do so by using building performance evaluation processes and methodologies. And that means a rigorous, robust process from concept design, through to procurement, construction, compliance, testing, commissioning, and post-occupancy evaluation. We believe the APP tool, once digitised, can help to do that.”

The APP tool would be complementary to existing processes and compliance systems, thus avoiding any duplicated effort. It could also be adapted for retrofit projects. Brooks added: “We want the tool to be able to take in information from other processes and activities. It will have all sorts of gateways within it, and in order to get to a gateway and get through it, you will need to have a certain level of information and/or robust evidence.”

The tool enables any change in specification to be challenged to ensure the desired and/or required energy performance targets are met. Alongside the tool will be an on-demand digital guide and training programme for users.

“Although this hasn’t been developed specifically to address the Grenfell issue, the tool will help us to tighten up the quality assurance and reduce risk during the construction, the procurement, the compliance and checking processes, so that a team can deliver a built asset that performs as designed,” Brooks said.

Image: 216073801 © Francesco Scatena | Dreamstime.com