An investigation into climate adaptation measures applied to retrofit social housing in the south east of England
Prof Susannah Hagan
The basic retrofit package for social housing in Europe includes adding a layer of insulation to the external or internal surfaces, improving the air tightness of the building and controlling the ventilation. With the threat of climate change and the rising risk of global warming though, the design of these systems may become unsuitable in a few years. As the heating season shortens, the current concern with reducing space heating demand may become less of a requirement. Instead, as the risk of overheating in the summer increases, these measures could make the situation worse and some cooling strategies may be necessary. Using the EU Interreg-funded project IFORE (Innovation For Renewal Prof. M. McEvoy), as a case study, I will be looking at the environmental retrofit of 100 houses in Rushenden (Kent) in the light of unpredictable climate change.
The proposition of this thesis is that before the end of its lifetime, by 2050 for instance, 'deep retrofit’, the substantial upgrading aimed at reducing considerably the energy use of social housing, may cause overheating in summer. As a result, the risk is that the occupants would adapt to the new environmental conditions by buying air conditioning units, which will increase CO2 emissions and greater fuel poverty. In order to address this problem, I will explore design solutions for social housing in the south east of England to adapt the retrofitted houses to climate change. The measures include some passive techniques like shading devices, night time ventilation and increased thermal mass. As governmental plans to massive-scale retrofit of the existing UK housing stock emerge, this work is aiming to inform on whether the current way of retrofitting is in accord with the predictions of future climate change.
Are the methods currently used in housing retrofit valid in the view of a predicted changing climate and in particular of global warming?
What are the retrofit systems and/or packages that will still be in place in 50 years and what will have to be replaced to guarantee a comfortable indoor environment in the case of global warming?
What are the best combinations of low cost – high efficiency adaptation measures that fit best the case of retrofitted social housing in the south – east of England?