06/10/2023

£240k Innovate UK grant secured to scale building retrofit project

A consortium of United Living, Kestrix Ltd. and Peabody has been awarded a £240,000 grant from Innovate UK, the UK’s Innovation Agency, for the development of cutting-edge technology to accelerate building retrofit and support the UK’s net zero goals.

The project aims to address the urgent need for a scalable, accurate, cost-effective method of measuring building fabric performance. The technology can be used for retrofit planning, prioritisation, and verification to accelerate the decarbonisation of existing homes through the application of mass thermal image capture and artificial intelligence (AI).

Heating and cooling buildings accounts for 17% of emissions in the UK, and according to recent reports, the UK must retrofit 1.8 homes every minute between now and 2050 to achieve its net zero targets. However, existing methods of measuring building fabric performance are slow, manual, and expensive – and modelling based only on existing EPCs can be inaccurate – drastically slowing planning, pricing, and verification of retrofit.

This collaboration will pioneer the development of automated Rapid Thermal Performance Assessment (RaThPA) machine learning algorithms, which will interpret thermographic images of buildings at scale to enable rapid benchmarking of building fabric performance. RaThPAs will generate accurate predictions of building fabric component U-values and instant identification of thermal anomalies, such as thermal bridges and degraded insulation. They will also estimate the overall space heating demand in a building. Combined with aerial-based thermal image capture using drones, this will be achieved at a fraction of the cost and without the need for accessing property interiors.

Andy Merrin, Innovation & Decarbonisation Director at United Living Property Services, commented: “As we look to decarbonise domestic properties across the UK, we need to embrace innovations that allow us to deliver net zero carbon solutions at scale. We’re excited to play a key part in the development of the Kestrix service that will allow us to improve the accuracy of available property data.”

Lucy Lyons, Chief Executive Officer of Kestrix Ltd., commented: “This project brings together the technical expertise of Kestrix, the extensive experience of Peabody Trust as one of the UK’s largest social housing providers, and the retrofit delivery expertise of United Living. 

“Together, we aim to demonstrate a game-changing technology that will transform the way the industry approaches retrofit, enabling smarter, smoother retrofit planning – and ultimately the more efficient allocation of scarce retrofit resources.”

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