Building low carbon homes is proving tougher than expected, when the Scottish government set out ambitious targets in 2007. House builders continue to face little pressure from customers, and there is at least some push back at the ratcheting effect of building standards. A far bigger challenge is in retro-fitting older homes, with the gulf between maximum and minimal approaches roughly three-fold. There’s a small part of the former Ravenscraig steel works, where the past has been recreated – not a blast furnace, but a block of four flats, of the type built across central Scotland in the 1930s to replace slums. It now numbers around 250,000 housing units. They were built for the times, and they’ve been adapted for the expectation of central heating and double glazing. The coal storage has gone. The design was re-built, to a 1930s spec, on the BRE building research site in Lanarkshire, requiring South Lanarkshire Council planning approval to break the current construction rules. It was then upgraded to take account of typical improvements since the inter-war years. And each of the four flats has subsequently had an upgrade, to differing specifications, to see how different approaches perform in terms of energy efficiency. The more minimal makeover involves external insulation cladding and new windows. The most extensive one includes solar panels on the roof and an air source pump. The walls were stripped back to the brick, and new internal insulation panels were installed. This level of household surgery requires that occupants move out. It can get messy. The end result reduces the floor space, but is the most effective way of improving energy efficiency when you retrofit a home. And those who have had it done to their homes like the broader internal window sill.
BBC 20th Aug 2019 read more »