EXCLUSIVE: System that uses machine learning to measure the 'actual' fabric thermal performance of a home within three months could provide evidence base for national retrofit programme
Knauf Insulation has developed a technology that uses machine learning systems to accurately measure the 'actual' energy performance of individual homes, an innovation that could drastically enhance the accuracy of energy performance certificates (EPC), BusinessGreen can reveal.
The new technology, which can generate an assessment of fabric performance of a home within three months, could provide the evidence base for an energy efficiency retrofit programme for the nation's homes, the company said.
The "discreet, scalable and cost-efficient" measurement tool ensures the building fabric component of a building's EPC rating can be backed by real evidence, rather than "notional Standard Assessment Procedure calculations", according to Knauf Insulation.
The company stressed the tool marked a major departure from other available techniques to measure 'actual' fabric thermal performance, which it said were "intrusive and expensive".
Steven Heath, technical and strategy director of Knauf Insulation, celebrated the launch of the product, noting that the UK's 2050 net zero emissions ambition depended on the country's housing stock being made much more energy efficient.
"There is no path to net zero unless the energy efficiency of our buildings is significantly improved," he said. "A national retrofit programme is the answer, but only if robust measurement and quality control is built in to ensure tenants and taxpayers get what they pay for. This new technology, if underpinned by a 'pay for performance' policy approach, enables that - making real-world measurement viable at scale for the first time."
The aim is for the tool to allow government and landlords to verify the return on investment on refurbishments by providing an asset rating similar to a bespoke 'miles per gallon' rating for a vehicle. As such it would also provide residents with insight over how much money retrofits are saving them, and help housebuilders ensure the homes they are building meet imminent zero carbon standards.
Pressure on the government to prioritise a major building retrofit programme in the first phase of its recovery package, set to be announced this week, has mounted over the last month.
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the Environmental Audit Committee and a host of green groups have stressed that energy efficiency upgrades represent one of the most effective forms of 'shovel-ready' infrastructure for both creating jobs and tackling carbon emissions. They have also urged the government to implement its planned Future Homes Standard for new homes, currently planned for 2025, as soon as possible.
The UK's leaky housing stock is responsible for 21 per cent of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions. However, reports last week indicated the plans for a £9.2bn upgrade programme promised in the Conservative Manifesto are at risk of being watered down, after sources indicated that the Prime Minister's influential advisor Dominic Cummings was in favour of shifting the funding to support new housebuilding projects.
Knauf Insulation said today that its measurement tool would further strengthen its recently-launched 'smart retrofit' programme, which is available across Europe. Its next step, it said, would be to develop a 'smart build' service that would help housebuilders deliver energy-efficient homes.
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