Not-for-profit sustainability champion Bioregional is taking a lead in helping the UK to ‘green’ its latest generation of houses.
The result of a massive research programme, BEPIT, the ‘Building Energy Performance Improvement Toolkit’, closes the shortfall that has dogged newly-built houses for decades.
Early results show the ‘gap-buster’ is highly effective – a 40% improvement on airtightness levels for starters – and it is expected to transform the quality and comfort of new homes too. Owners and occupiers can expect lower heating bills, optimised ventilation and air quality, a reduction in draughts and moulds, and an eco-friendly cut in carbon emissions.
Reporting on the toolkit’s early successes at this month’s Ecobuild Show, building performance engineer and BEPIT manager Douglas Drewniak told audiences that feedback from housebuilders already using BEPIT was exciting, six months on from the toolkit’s launch last summer.
But Bioregional says leadership from the government and construction industry is essential to guarantee the new approach is taken up and embedded.
The key finding from the four-year £1.3 million research programme is that the gap is caused by clusters of minor snags and errors scattered through the whole construction process. These add up to a substantial drift between design promise and as-built performance.
“Now we understand the energy gap, there’s no justification for continuing to construct it into new houses. Today’s homes can now deliver very close to what they promise. BEPIT is here to help builders do that and we’re getting a good amount of interest, with quite a few signing up for the service,” said Drewniak.
BEPIT is a change of approach making newbuilds that work as well in the real world as they do on paper. It involves monitoring a set of critical processes and working in detail with every key actor in a housebuilding project to identify and nail problems proactively during design, procurement and construction.
Bioregional plans to embed BEPIT nationally as the go-to tool for the housebuilding industry. Using a team of facilitators, it aims to train up sustainability ‘integrators’ to improve energy performance on a large scale. Ultimately, BEPIT could be applied beyond residential and timber-framed schemes into commercial highrise and traditional block-and-brick.