Historic building re-generation

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.


The topic of this proposal arose from personal interest in historic building re-generation, this then manifested into carbon emission re-generating after reading a book called The Autonomous House. The project showed how houses can be self efficient and make barley any impact on the environment at all if done correctly.

The Challenge

The United Kingdom is committed to reducing carbon emissions by 60 per cent by 2050. A reduction of that level in emissions from the housing stock would equate to about 24 million fewer tonnes of carbon, leaving emissions at about 17 million tonnes per annum.

The United Kingdom contains more than 26 million homes ranging from the largest Elizabethan mansion to the smallest purpose-built flat. Collectively, those homes emitted 41.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (MtCO2) in 2004, representing more than a quarter of the UK's emissions (152 MtCO2) of the main greenhouse gas driving climate change.[1] Over the next 12 years, the Government believes that 3 million more units will need to be added to the UK housing stock, and considerable effort has been made to ensure that those additional homes are as carbon-neutral as modern building methods, technologies and government regulation can make them.

The average newly built home in the UK emits 0.86 tonnes of carbon a year; the average household living in an existing home is responsible for about twice as much, at 1.6 tonnes, three quarters of which arises from space and water heating and from lighting.5 The initial prognosis for a reduction as substantial as 60 per cent does not, on the face of it, look good: energy consumption per household in the UK has remained more or less stable since 1990, and the rising number of households (the Government predicts 223,000 more households in England each year to 2026) might be expected to bring about an increase.

The challenge animating this Report, therefore, is what can be done to minimise and reduce the carbon footprint of the already existing housing stock, particularly given that an estimated 23 to 25 million of the homes already standing will still be lived in half a century from now. To put it another way, two thirds of the homes likely to exist in 2050 already do.

Working Title

Discovering how feasible and cost effected reducing existing home carbon footprints can be and how it can be overcome especially given the current financial climate we are in today.

"How to overcome the drastic need for eco-regenerating the UK's existing housing stocks"


The aim of this research project is to discover the feasibility and sustainable gains that eco - regeneration can achieve. To show what methods are available and which give the most impact, both in terms of which are affective and which changes are most cost effective.


  • To discover the methods there are to reduce carbon emissions in homes
  • To produce a case study that can be used to asses these things using digital SAP programme based on a 1930's, three bedroom semi detached house.
  • To discover how feasible is it to physically adapt an existing building
  • To assess what the cost benefits to homeowners are if they update there homes to the new standards
  • Determine how the government could subsidise building improvements
  • Produce a summary of how the current financial climate will affect the government's targets.


Technology is constantly progressing, this will mean books and research papers even only a year old may be outdated and potentially now irrelevant. Obtaining data will be a major limitation while doing this research paper. A lot of the data has been produced by the government and gaining access to a large proportion may be very difficult. Another limitation regarding the data is that with the field of research constantly changing it makes it very difficult to gather recent, up to date figures. This will then have an effect on the out come of the findings and conclusions as they will be lagging behind the current times. The research paper will also be out dated very quickly after completion. Without strong professional experience in the industry and also when creating the case study, it may be time consuming as it will be all new material and something not currently trained to do. Different researchers publish statistics differently. Some are done for the United Kingdom where as some are done only for England. This will make it difficult to compare data and potentially could accumulate in incorrect data.


While conducting this research dissertation I will assume that the latest published data is slightly out of date after going to print. I will also assume that not everyone is informed about current plans for emission regeneration and this will be accounted for when constructing questionnaires. Also as a result of this there may not be as much research data available at this current time. Although there is a constant growing following and support.

Literature Review

Whilst reading relevant materials for this research proposal, no views of objection from any author was discovered regarding whether or not we should be reducing our carbon emissions. This at least means that we are all striving for the same goals and now the task ahead is to create a uniformed action plan to achieve the government's targets.

One way in which the government is trying to influence home owners is by the introduction of the home energy report (HER)

In October 1999, the government proposed a package of measures intended to improve the efficiency of the home buying and selling process in England and Wales, part of which, the Sellers Pack - now the Home Information Pack - would include a home energy report [6]. According to The Department of Environment Transport and the Regions (DETR), the inclusion of an energy report: '. . .sends a powerful message to homeowners, the construction industry and appliance suppliers alike. It empowers consumers to factor in energy efficiency as part of their decision to buy a particular property-and to understand better how they can have control over the energy performance of their home (by consumption patterns and home improvements). Construction and appliance suppliers will have to respond to the needs of better-informed consumers.'[2]

Home information packs have not been received well from both the construction industry and home sellers. This introduction of the home energy report is not a new concept and are working well elsewhere. It potentially provides a vehicle to promote the improvement of the energy performance of dwellings through cost effective measures.

A major survey of Europe 2001-2003 found that 12 countries had introduced and 4 were about to introduce energy certification schemes for buildings, 10 of which were already mandatory for new buildings and 4 mandatory for existing stock. Fourteen of the schemes cover new housing and 11 cover existing housing.[3]

"To demolish a Victorian terraced house is to throw away enough embodied energy to drive a car around the world five times. None of this is wasted if the building is regenerated."[4]

This brings about a debate between new build and refurbishment. In more blunt words "knock it down or do it up". Demolishing existing housing stock in favor of building new homes, results in loss of heritage and wastes carbon emissions embedded in otherwise sound structures. The college of estate management (CEM), Reading, sponsored by the BRE Trust. Created a research paper entitled "Knock it down or do it up" There findings indicated that regeneration was the more sustainable option of the two arguments. However developers see more drawbacks than incentives to housing refurbishment. Refurbishment is viewed as more risky and costly than new-build housing, particularly where existing stock is in poor condition. There are also benefits to refurbishment on more major projects that attract VAT zero rating or tax relief. However refurbishment projects tend to be small and are cost-effective only when the original stock is in good condition and is ideal for quick and simple conversion.

"The latest annual volume of Housing Statistics for 2008 was released on 11 December 2008 under arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

This annual compendium covers all aspects of housing in England (and in some cases United Kingdom). Points of significance:

  • There were 22.2 million dwellings in England in 2007, 82 per cent of them houses or bungalows.
  • Seventy per cent of households are owner occupiers, 18 per cent are social tenants and 13 per cent are private renters.
  • Lower quartile house prices stood at 7.3 times lower quartile earnings in 2007, up from 4.2 times in 2001.
  • In 2006-07 in England the average rent paid by council tenants was £280 per month compared to £313 for Housing Association tenants and £565 for assured private rents.
  • In 2006-07 around 2.7 per cent of households were living in overcrowded conditions, ranging from 6.6 per cent in London to 1.5 per cent in the South West.
  • There were just over 44,000 affordable housing units provided in England in 2006-07, thirty per cent of these were in London.
  • The average energy efficiency rating for housing stock is increasing- 7 per cent of houses were in the more energy efficient bands A-C in 2006 compared with only 2 per cent in 1996.

The compendium is a snapshot ofdata available at the time of going to print (Autumn 2008). More up to date data are published as they become available as live tables from the www.comunities.gov.uk."[5]

These selected statistics provide a basis to show just how great a challenge reaching the government targets is going to be. It also shows that 31% of houses are rented. This is where it will be slower to get targets reached. The owners of this 31% will mostly own other property where they may reside. This poses the question of where the owners will obtain the funding to carry out the alterations. Currently it is not in there interest to carry out the alterations as it does not directly benefit them personally, only there tenants. It will not be until tenants decide this is something they want from a property, with the possible inclusion of new legislation regarding rented property will the owners start to carry out these alterations.

When producing the case study, SAP will be used to calculate the houses existing efficiency performance and then used to apply hypothetical factors of improvement (such as insulating external cavity walls) in order to show the methods that work and predict the cost savings that might be achieved if improvements are made .

The Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) is adopted by Government as the UK methodology for calculating the energy performance of dwellings. The calculation is based on the energy balance taking into account a range of factors that contribute to energy efficiency:

  • materials used for construction of the dwelling
  • thermal insulation of the building fabric
  • ventilation characteristics of the dwelling and ventilation equipment
  • efficiency and control of the heating system(s)
  • solar gains through openings of the dwelling
  • the fuel used to provide space and water heating, ventilation and lighting
  • renewable energy technologies

The calculation is independent of factors related to the individual characteristics of the household occupying the dwelling when the rating is calculated, for example:

  • household size and composition;
  • ownership and efficiency of particular domestic electrical appliances;
  • individual heating patterns and temperatures.

Ratings are not affected by the geographical location, so that a given dwelling has the same rating in all parts of the UK. The procedure used for the calculation is based on the BRE Domestic Energy Model (BREDEM[ 1,2,3,4,5]), which provides a framework for the calculation of energy use in dwellings. The procedure is consistent with the European standards BS EN 832 and BS EN ISO 13790. The Standard Assessment Procedure was first published by the DOE (now the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, DEFRA) and BRE in 1993 and in amended form in 1994, and conventions to be used with it were published in 1996 and amended in 1997. A consolidated edition was published as SAP 1998, and a revised version was published in 2001 (SAP 2001).

The present edition is SAP 2005 in which:

  • The SAP scale has been revised to 1 to 100, where 100 now represents zero energy cost. It can be above 100 for dwellings that are net exporters.
  • The dwelling CO2 Emission Rate (DER) together with an Environmental Impact rating replace the Carbon Index.
  • Energy for lighting is included.

SAP 2005 with amendments version 9.81

  • Solar water heating has been revised.
  • Cylinder loss has been revised; manufacturer's data for heat loss becomes the preferred source of cylinder loss.
  • The effect of thermal bridging is taken into account.
  • It incorporates additional renewable and energy saving technologies.
  • It provides a method for estimating a tendency to high internal temperature in summer;
  • Data tables have been updated (fuel costs, CO2 emissions, boiler efficiency and heating controls, etc).
  • The measure of energy is now kWh rather than GJ.
  • Described the procedure for handling tested data on mechanical ventilation systems (previously done through Appendix Q).
  • Introduced some additional heating and hot water systems and additional control options.
  • Provided additional options for community heating (two boiler types; hot-water-only systems).
  • Added "in-screed" to the underfloor heating options for wet systems.
  • Amended the kWh/kWp for photovoltaics to 800.
  • Amended the electricity export price in Table 12 to 5.7 p/kWh.
  • Included treatment of curtain walling.
  • Provided a routine for micro wind turbines and allows small scale hydro-electric generation.
  • Provided the means for assessing a "net zero carbon home" for the purposes of Stamp Duty Land Tax
  • Included some clarifications."[6]

In summary the Government's Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) is used for assessing the energy performance of dwellings. The indicators of the energy performance are energy consumption per unit floor area, an energy cost rating (the SAP rating), an Environmental Impact rating based on CO2 emissions (the EI rating) and a Dwelling CO2 Emission Rate (DER). The SAP rating is based on the energy costs associated with space heating, water heating, ventilation and lighting, less cost savings from energy generation technologies. It is adjusted for floor area so that it isessentially independent of dwelling size for a given built form. The SAP rating is expressed on a scale of 1 to 100, the higher the number the lower the running costs.

Research Methodology

There are two types of research methodology:

  • Quantitative research
  • Qualitative research

Quantitative research as defined by Creswell (1994):

"an inquiry into a social or human problem, based on testing a hypothesis or a theory composed on variables, measured with numbers, and analysed with statistical procedures, in order to determine whether the hypothesis or the theory hold true"

Qualitative research as defined on the web:

"Research that is subjective and does not rely on statistical analysis"[7]

This type of research is based on people's opinions and experience in a specified subject; this type of research is implemented due to the following reasons as described by Zikmund (1997):

  • To diagnose a situation
  • To screen alternatives, and;
  • To discover new ideas

Form the theory it would be assumed at this stage that the literature review will enable the researcher to clarify the hypothesis and further reading would be required in order to explore the topic thoroughly.

The main survey questionnaire would provide qualitative and semi quantitative research results.

Proposed methodology

1. Literature review

This research will review relevant literature on the subject of carbon emissions from existing houses and the methods in which to combat them.

2. Case study

Create a case study around a relatively old (1930's) semi-detached property (27% of homes in the UK are semi-detached (census 2001: Housing)) . By using the Government's standard assessment procedure (SAP) to calculate energy rating of the dwelling.

3. Survey

The results from a pilot study would provide sufficient grounds for the creation and finalizing of the main survey. In order to receive a good size response the questions would be multiple choice formats and kept to a maximum of 20 questions. Open questions are considered inappropriate as the subject itself is considered wide thus answers may drift from the subject area and would be very difficult to analyse.

Initial References


English Heritage (unknown) Heritage Works - RICS, BPF,

Haskell T (1993). Caring for our Built Environment. London: Spon.

Ireland D (2005). 'The green house effect'. The Guardian,5 May.www.guardian.co.uk/society/2005/may/05/housingpolicy. environment/print [accessed: 4 April 2008].

English Heritage (2004) Heritage counts,

Comunities and Local government (2008) Housing Statistics 2008

Yates T (2006). Sustainable Refurbishment of Victorian Housing: Guidance, Assessment Method and Case Studies. Watford: IHS BRE Press.

The Government's Standard Assessment Procedure for Energy Rating of Dwellings

Energy Act 2008

Knock it down do it up (2008)Frances Plimmer, Gaye Pottinger, Sarah Harris,

Michael Waters and Yasmin Pocock

World Wide Web










Style, layout, and page formatting

Title page

All text on the title page will be centred vertically and horizontally. The title page has no page number and will not count in any page numbering.

Page layout

Left margin: 1½"

Right margin: 1"

Top margin: 1"

Bottom margin: 1"

Page numbering

Pages will be numbered at the bottom right. Numeric page numbering begins with the first page of Chapter 1 (although a page number is not placed on page 1).

Spacing and justification

All pages will be single sided. Text is to be double-spaced, except for long quotations and the bibliography (which are single-spaced). There is one blank line between a section heading and the text that follows it.

Font face and size

Any easily readable font will be used such as Arial or Calibri. The font will be 10 points or larger. Generally, the same font will be used throughout the dissertation, except for 1) tables and graphs may use a different font, and 2) chapter titles and section headings may use a different font.


  • The Harvard system will be used to cite references within the paper. When naming the author in a sentence, the year will then be followed in parentheses. For example: Jones (2004) found that... If not including the authors name as part of the text, then both the author's name and year will be enclosed in parentheses. For example:
  • One researcher (Jones, 2004) found that... A complete bibliography is attached at the end of the paper. It will be double spaced except single-spacing is used for a multiple-line reference. The first line of each reference is indented. Outline of chapters and sections
  1. Department for Communities and Local Government, Review of the Sustainability of Existing Buildings, November 2006.
  2. Developing the home energy report : An everyday house holder-centred approach
  3. Some schemes limit use to homes of a certain size, type, age, etc.
  4. Heritage counts, English Heritage (2004
  5. Housing statistics 2008
  6. The Government's Standard Assessment Procedure for Energy Rating of Dwellings
  7. http://multichannelmerchant.com