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Research partnership to pave way for new model of zero carbon homes



A research project between sustainability specialists Caplin Homes and academics at De Montfort University (DMU) could pave the way for more affordable low and zero carbon properties in the UK.

Based around Caplin Homes’ patented inter-seasonal heat store, the Earth Energy Bank (EEB), the scheme aims to study the effectiveness of the technology within a retrofit setting, where the building envelope is relatively inefficient. DMU’s Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development (IESD) will be monitoring the performance of the traditional terraced house, which is located just yards from the university’s city centre campus.

The project has also gained support from Europe’s largest heating technology manufacturer, Vaillant, whose new 3kW geoTHERM mini heat pump has been installed within the property. Designed for retrofitting to multi-occupancy buildings, the geoTHERM was first installed in a high-rise property in Manchester but the company is keen to apply it to new build applications.

John Bailey at Vaillant commented: “Renewable technology is an area we’re hugely committed to as a business. We believe ground source systems have a great deal of potential and the Earth Energy Bank could be a real stepping stone to their more widespread adoption.”

As a cost-effective alternative to traditional ground-loop or deep bore systems, the EEB makes achieving low and zero carbon much more affordable. Its creators believe a system such as the one being trialled by DMU could be a viable option for social landlords.

Michael Goddard, director of Caplin Homes, explained: “This project will allow us to demonstrate how the technology could work in a whole host of new build properties, especially in low rise, multi-occupancy housing developments.

“Ground source heat pumps are one of the most efficient renewable technologies available but their current applications are restricted by the lack of space for ground collectors or the cost of deep bores. The Earth Energy Bank could change all that and this installation offers us an opportunity to gain insightful data for further system modelling.”

This project builds on the two years of data from the successful operation of the Solar House, the UK’s first fully solar powered new build home. Previous installations have seen the energy store housed within a building’s footprint; however, as a retrofit project, the EEB in this instance was fitted within a bank of land at the back of the property.

Consisting of a matrix of boreholes approximately 1.5m deep, the EEB utilises the high thermal capacity and poor conducting qualities of the earth.

Because the project is housed in an existing terraced house, the EEB has been specially insulated so it could be located beneath a lawn on the campus. It works in conjunction with the geoTHERM Mini heat pump and a solar array housed on the building’s roof. Surplus energy generated during the summer months is used to warm the energy store, which is then drawn upon to heat the home in winter.

The IESD has taken an academic interest in the development of the EEB since its initial installation in the Solar House. Energy flows within the house were monitored for 12 months by an MSc student, who has produced a full report on its performance.

Dr Rick Greenough, reader in industrial sustainability, said: “The Earth Energy Bank is still relatively new but it could influence the technologies that are used in house building of the future. Having a working model will enable us to undertake further research into the performance of the EEB and our students to see first-hand the latest renewable innovations and explore further applications.”

In addition to the new energy system, the house has also been installed with new double glazed windows and underfloor heating.

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Image: The Earth Energy Bank has been installed behind the property


A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon




energy efficient homes

Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.

There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.

1. The Rise Of Smart Windows

When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.

If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.

2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs

If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.

Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.

3. Low-E Windows Taking Over

It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.

They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.

4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges

Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.

The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.

5. Improving Our Current LEDs

Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.

That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.

Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too

Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.

ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244

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IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”



IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.

Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.

Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.

Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:

“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.

We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.

There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.

We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”

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