Evaluating the performance of low carbon buildings and communities: how far, how much?

15 MAY 2014

On the 23 April Professor Rajat Gupta presented an interesting and thought provoking lecture on evaluating the performance of low carbon buildings and communities: how far, how much? The event was supported by two companies Orsis UK Limited, a leading provider of energy and environmental metering and monitoring solutions is dedicated in delivering timely, accurate and useful data to help support research programmes and improvements in energy saving measures in an effort to reduce our Carbon footprint and alleviate fuel poverty. Zero Carbon Hub, who was established in 2008, as a non-profit organisation, to take day-to-day operational responsibility for achieving the government’s target of delivering zero carbon homes in England from 2016. Since 2008 we’ve worked with both government and industry with the focus on raising build standards and reducing the risk associated with implementing the Zero Carbon Homes policy. The lecture was introduced by Professor John Raftery, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Student Experience at Oxford Brookes.

The lecture explained where the UK is on climate change and that our current levels of CO2 emissions are unsustainable. The UK building sector is part of this problem as it accounts for 45% of CO2 emissions across all industries. The domestic sector is the largest sector to emit CO2 emissions and this is because three quarters of the housing stock was built before 1975 and has poor energy efficiency.

The drivers of change in the UK are that all new homes to be zero carbon by 2016 and there is ambition for all new non-domestic buildings to be zero carbon by 2019. There are also challenges for the current home stock to make improvements and alterations to become more energy efficient. There is a growing concern that homes are at risk of overheating and that this is exacerbated by a warming climate.

Rajat explained the areas of research that OISD (Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development) are involved in and how this is reflected in the national and international research and policy.

  • Carbon counting and carbon mapping
  • Advanced low carbon refurbishment
  • Building performance feedback and post-occupancy evaluation
  • Evaluating low carbon communities
  • Climate change adaptation of building and neighbourhoods
  • Global common carbon metrics

Several case studies were highlighted in both domestic and non-domestic sectors. The lecture emphasised that with collaboration and engagement from individuals and communities the needs of these groups and Government policy can be achieved.