Photovoltaics are being used across some areas of the Optimised Retrofit Programme to create active homes. For example, Denbighshire County Council is adding solar PVs to properties as part of its existing roof replacement programme. It is also using battery storage and intelligent energy systems in the most suitable properties, to allow occupants to benefit from variable energy tariffs and flexibility services such as demand side response. Anglesey County Council is combining the use of air source heat pumps and hybrid heating systems with intelligent energy systems to create homes that are at once responsive to grid demand signals and comfortable for each occupant.
The data generated, and any relevant system components, are being deployed with standardised naming conventions across the participating properties, regardless of ownership or contractor involved. This relatively new approach means consistent data is collected and assessed across the programme. This will help to mitigate the risk associated with future investments and provide the evidence-base to determine best practice for the wider industry. And to support adoption and compliance with PAS2035, the ABC-RPʼs commercial counterpart, the Active Building Centre, is delivering complimentary PAS training and evaluation to project delivery partners.
The project is researching a range of improvements in existing housing stock from fabric improvements, installation of more efficient systems (such as air-source heat pumps), onsite generation (such as PV), battery storage and intelligent controls - all of which are aimed at providing reductions in carbon emissions and improvements in the affordability of warmth in the home.
Wales is widely seen as an ideal testbed for future focused, national-scale projects due to its varied terrain which encompasses busy urban conurbations to remote and relatively isolated, off-grid communities, as well its variety of industries, housing stock and power generation methods. The data from this project will support a more predictable transition from carbon intensive buildings, to homes that can play an active role in the energy infrastructure and support grid decarbonisation.
ABC-RP is being delivered from offices in Swansea and Sheffield, providing high-value jobs to regions outside of the South East. The Optimised Retrofit Programme itself is being delivered across a diverse array of socioeconomic areas in Wales including Carmarthenshire, Denbighshire, Ynys Mon, Vale of Glamorgan, and Swansea.
Conservative estimates suggest that there is a requirement for 900,000 homes to be retrofitted, creating an estimated 15,000 new jobs over the next 10 years in Wales. While new training and education programmes for RSLs and supply chain partners will support job growth in areas where new skills will be required for the future.
As the toolset is refined, the data, findings and recommendations will be made available across the social housing, academia, industry, and government sectors. This will give the industry and associated partners a depth and breadth of actionable insight that will provide value for the future.
Social landlords and local authorities in Wales, and beyond, can use the standardised frameworks and stock assessment and modelling tools, and the evidence from homes taking part in this programme, to make these new processes and approaches a key requirement when procuring new and retrofit housing programmes in the future.
These open standards will also mitigate vendor lock-in with utility and service providers and support competition in the supply chain, fostering a culture of continuous improvement as suppliers vie to both win new customers and keep existing ones.
The open standards, new technologies and data-driven approach being recommended and trialled in this programme are aligned to the Well-being of Future Generations act and will become the foundation of a sustainable retrofit sector in Wales. And to achieve deeper insight into how occupants benefit from retrofit improvements in their homes, the Social Sciences teams from Swansea University and Cardiff University will be undertaking project lifecycle research activities to help shape future projects and show how these methods can be adopted for larger-scale retrofit programmes.
The combined evidence from this project will ensure future retrofits and new builds have people and places at their heart, and deliver improved living environments, reduced emissions and homes that cost less to run, bringing people out of fuel poverty.