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Renewable energy technologies in affordable homes

MERI is involved in a project which is examining the effectiveness of Rotherham's Henley Rise Eco-Homes development. The ESRC-funded study will determine how much energy the homes are saving, and how the attitudes and behaviour of the residents have been affected.

The Eco-Homes, developed by South Yorkshire Housing Association in 2007, are fitted with solar panels to provide hot water and generate electricity, any surplus from which can be exported back to the grid. They are also 'super insulated' to reduce heat loss.

Researchers from MERI's Centre for Infrastructure Management (CIM) and the Facilities Management Graduate Centre are evaluating the properties over a 12 month period. The study includes monitoring the energy-saving performance of the houses, interviewing residents and looking at how weather may affect the technologies.

Dr Fin O'Flaherty from CIM is a researcher on the project, and is responsible for monitoring the performance of the renewable energy sources.

He said, 'Developments such as Henley Rise can potentially play an important role in reducing carbon emissions in the housing sector. This research will provide a clearer insight into what reductions can be achieved in practice'.

The housing sector currently accounts for 30 per cent of energy consumption in the UK. The government has a target of generating ten per cent of the UK's electricity from renewable supplies by 2010.

Summerfield ECO Neighbourhood Evaluation

A total of 329 rented properties in Summerfield, Birmingham were retro-fitted with solar collectors to provide a contribution to energy costs for familes living in fuel poverty. CIM were part of a research team commissioned to study the effectiveness of the scheme. Questionnaires were developed to enable feedback to be determined from the residents, ten case studies were conducted for a more in-depth analysis along with interviewing stakeholders involved in the design of the scheme. The final report provided information on the effectiveness of the scheme.

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