HEAT3D

Quick, affordable and scalable measurement of the energy performance of buildings.

Last updated: 17th June 2021

Date uploaded:

Approved for use

Innovation Lead: Liam Winder
Project number: 104804
UKRI funding: £214,461

Website:
heat3d.net


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Summary

HEAT3D takes technology that helps find people lost at sea and uses it to measure the energy performance of a building. Based on infrared thermal imaging, HEAT3D measure the U-value - the rate of heat flow through building elements such as walls, floors and roofs But unlike other measurement techniques, it assesses the entire wall not just a single point. The app-based technology also delivers results in less than two hours rather than several days, and presents the results as a 3D visual image. Site teams can use this highly-visual data to improve energy loss and make buildings more efficient. As well as improving current energy-saving measures in new builds and retrofits, HEAT3D can help provide a blueprint for more efficient buildings in the future.

Innovation type: Digital, Energy
Organisation type: Innovative SME

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Project pioneers

Build Test Solutions is a technology and software company pioneering the development of cost-effective, accurate measurement tools for building performance.

The problem

The energy efficiency of a building is currently expressed as an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate). Most EPC measurements are based on the design plans of the building, basic visual inspection or via the insulation and energy-saving measures that have been installed. An EPC doesn’t provide a full picture of how well a building holds its heat for a number of reasons. Lower performing materials can get substituted in; inaccuracies or errors in construction can impact performance; or current measurement techniques can fail to capture the true U-value (the rate of transfer of heat through a structure) as they only take a single point of reference. These methods can therefore be prone to inaccuracies, time-consuming and expensive - the equipment can cost up to £4,000 to purchase.

Vision

The level of accuracy that HEAT3D offers as a new measurement tool will improve the quality of insulation and overall energy performance of buildings. This is invaluable for new buildings, but also critical for retrofit and refurbishment. It will help construction teams better understand how heat flows through a building (U-value) and how to improve energy loss levels making buildings more energy efficient. And the comprehensive and affordable nature of the tool means that cost and skills are not a barrier as this level of knowledge is accessible to as many people in the industry as possible.

Key Insight

Build Test Solutions was introduced to Electric Pocket through Salford University. Originally looking to use its technology to help search for people lost at sea, Electric Pocket realised it had the tools to measure heat loss in a building in a much quicker, cheaper way than currently exists. With Build Test Solutions, they saw an opportunity to create a more effective and efficient way to measure a building's energy performance if they could turn expensive measurement tools into an affordable app that could sit on any site team's phone.

First step

Brought together working on the Energy House at Salford University, the partners conducted numerous trials of the Heat3D concept. The facility gave them a controlled environment on which to calibrate the HEAT3D app which led to the precision they now have. Second and third phase field trials were carried out with results shown to match the traditional methods of measuring U-values, but in a significantly reduced time frame and in a way that assessed the entire wall rather than a single point. The accurate and verifiable measurements that the app delivered meant the site teams were able to identify where in the structure heat escapes most easily so it could be rectified.

Barrier

Current energy efficiency ratings are based on design choices which aren’t always implemented correctly at construction stage. This means tenants don’t know their buildings true energy efficiency and how that affects running costs of the building. An EPC is a cheap method and, while it doesn't provide a full picture of a building's energy performance, it persists because methods to measure actual performance are fiddly, costly and inconsistent.

Digital Innovation

HEAT3D is combines two new and inexpensive technologies to provide a low cost app that offers quick and highly visual measurement of the heat flux value through a building surface in Watts, along with its U-value. It can be installed on any smart phone and uses a FLIR camera and infra-red thermography to create a 3D map or visual image of the surface being measured. HEAT3D doesn’t just measure the IR temperatures, it measures the actual heat flow in Watts flowing through each part of the surface and is able to visualise and recognise thermal bridges through to cable ties. HEAT3D can measure heat flow to a proven accuracy of 5% for a 20W/㎡ heat flow. These measurements can then be used to provide a before and after comparison of U-values during refurbishment of existing buildings to improve insulation, or to check a new building’s performance is meeting predicted U-value expectations. As well as this improved accuracy, the HEAT3D app costs approximately £400, compared to infrared equipment which can cost as much as £4,000. And it is much quicker to assess building performance - the entire building can be measured in under two hours.

Whole life innovation

HEAT3D provides much more information for the intended user of the building at the point it is handed over, so developers and end users of the building have a complete picture of its energy performance. The accuracy of HEAT3D can minimise health risks like condensation and mould and the efficiencies it brings can reduce high heating bills and CO2 emissions. This brings greater peace of mind around environmental standards, and reassures end users that the building is comfortable, efficient and low-cost.

Collaborators

Build Test Solutions is a technology and software company pioneering the development of cost-effective, accurate measurement tools for building performance. Electric Pocket is a company embedding mobile and software engineering across businesses in the UK. The Energy House helps businesses understand how effective their products and services are in lowering consumers’ carbon footprint and reducing energy bills.

  • Build Test Solutions
  • Electric Pocket
  • Energy House 2.0
  • Salford University

Lead support

Build Test Solutions had previously been part of Innovate UK’s game changer competition, which led to Transforming Construction investing in HEAT3D as part of the government's biggest investment in the construction industry in a generation. The team are also working with the Active Building Centre and Welsh Government on their Optimised Retrofit Programme. 

Long Term Vision

The level of accuracy that HEAT3D offers as a new measurement tool will improve the quality of insulation and overall energy performance of buildings. This is invaluable for new buildings, but also critical for retrofit and refurbishment. Accurate measurements on energy loss will not only help provide future blueprints for more energy efficient buildings but help catch and improve building performance of new builds and refurbishments now.

Human Stories

HEAT3D provides much more information for the intended user of the building at the point it is handed over. Rather than only have a single point measurement of U-value that might say nothing about the heat flow through the rest of the space, HEAT3D provides a complete picture of the whole building's energy performance. This brings greater peace of mind for developers who want to ensures standards are met more rigorously. The technology itself was originally developed to help find people lost at sea and has been pivoted and reapplied to ensure end users of buildings have healthy, comfortable, efficient and low-cost environments. The accuracy of HEAT3D can minimise health risks like condensation and mould and the efficiencies it brings can reduce high heating bills and CO2 emissions.

Powerful Processes

The space and technology that the Energy House 2.0 provided was vital to the success of the project, with all three partners able to monitor and analyse the outputs of the trial. The HEAT3D app uses a FLIR camera to create a 3D map or visual image of the surface being measured. It is able to visualise and recognise thermal bridges through to cable ties. The resulting images show the site teams the heat flux value of a building surface in Watts, along with its U-value. These measurements can then be used to provide an accurate before and after comparison of U-values during refurbishment of existing buildings to improve insulation, or to check a new building’s performance is meeting predicted U-value expectations.

Fascinating Facts

HEAT3D reduces cost compared with traditional methods of measurement - traditionally it cost around £4,000 to undertake heat loss measurement, with HEAT3D the cost is £400. HEAT3D can now measure heat flow to a proven accuracy of 5% for a 20W/㎡ heat flow.  HEAT3D provides measurements for a whole wall element, not just a single point on a wall. The measurement can also be completed in under two hours compared to the three-five days taken by the incumbent techniques.

Benefits

Cost
HEAT3D reduces cost compared with traditional methods of measurement - traditionally it cost around £4,000 to undertake heat loss measurement, with HEAT3D the cost is £400.

Emissions
HEAT3D can now measure heat flow to a proven accuracy of 5% for a 20W/㎡ heat flow. This level of accuracy that the HEAT3D app offers will allow site teams to understand and identify where in the structure heat escapes most easily so that it can be rectified. This will lower the U-values of both new buildings and also retrofits and refurbishments.

Health
In improving the energy performance of the building, HEAT3D can minimise health risks like condensation and mould.

Time
HEAT3D provides measurements for a whole wall element, not just a single point on a wall. The measurement can also be completed in under two hours compared to the three-five days taken by the incumbent techniques.

Whole-life Value
HEAT3D provides much more information for the intended user of the building at the point it is handed over, so developers and end users of the building have a complete picture of its energy performance, and greater peace of mind around how comfortable, sustainable and cost-effective it might be to run.

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