Leeds Sustainability Institute

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Climate, Environment, Buildings & Energy

Evaluation of design & construction process and measurement of fabric performance of 2 prototype dwellings and the refurbishment of 1 existing dwelling


Derwenthorpe is a proposed new community on the edge of York, which the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust has been developing in partnership with City of York council, consisting of 540 homes, built to high environmental standards. The Temple Avenue Project was devised to provide an evaluation of the design, construction and performance of two prototype dwellings constructed as part of the development of house-type designs for the Derwenthorpe low carbon housing scheme.

The two prototype dwellings contained some technological innovation and were constructed between July and December 2009. One prototype was constructed using thin-joint masonry construction and a second using a structural insulated panel (SIPs) build system.

The acquisition of a traditional 1930’s semi-detached dwelling on a plot adjacent to the prototype site provided an opportunity to undergo a staged refurbishment of this dwelling, to investigate whether it was possible to achieve the same exacting energy performance standards in an existing dwelling refurbishment as that being predicted for the Derwenthorpe prototype dwellings.

Temple Avenue Project

Project Objectives

• To establish and characterise the design and construction issues of meeting the low carbon housing standards required within the context of the two chosen forms of prototype construction and the refurbishment of an existing dwelling.
• To enable an evaluation of the ease with which the different construction forms and refurbishment methodologies are able to meet the required carbon and energy standards.
• To enable the performance of the prototype dwellings types and construction forms to be established prior to replication, and to characterise those features that contribute to the level of performance observed.
• To establish the effectiveness of a selection of refurbishment technologies and determine which elements of the adopted refurbishment processes provide the greatest benefit.
• To provide improved specifications of design and construction, to ensure that future dwellings meet or exceed the target standards.
• To provide feedback on performance measurement methods and make recommendations to improve performance control approaches for future production cycles.

Project Methodology

The project began with site observations and initial testing of the existing dwelling in July 2009 and extended throughout the Winter, with coheating tests and pressurisation tests being performed on the dwellings.

Coheating tests have been performed to establish fabric heat-loss coefficients for both of the prototype dwellings and at 3 stages on the existing dwelling. Coheating tests were repeated on the existing dwelling to measure the resultant changes in the heat-loss characteristics of the dwelling prior to any intervention, after a basic “good homes” refurbishment and after additional refurbishment to bring the dwelling to an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions based on its initial performance.

Throughout the coheating tests the dwellings were monitored remotely by the Leeds Met research team. Measurements of internal conditions (room temperatures, RH, CO2 concentration) and the external environment (temperature, RH, wind speed and direction, rainfall, solar insolence) allowed accurate calculations of fabric performance to be conducted. Additional measurements of heat flux through external walls, floors and windows, together with thermal imaging surveys, conducted throughout the coheating tests provided additional information to aid analysis of the heat loss mechanisms being observed.
As well as performing dwelling pressurisation tests at critical stages throughout the investigation, the ventilation rates of the dwellings were determined by the release of pulses of CO2 into the habitable areas and subsequent analysis of the observed decay rates.

Project Partners

Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust

Studio Partington

Project Reports

Temple Avenue field trial summary report
Temple Avenue field trial Part 1: Evaluation of design & construction process and measurement of fabric performance of new build dwellings
Temple Avenue field trial Part 2: Energy efficient renovation of an existing dwelling: Evaluation of design & construction and measurement of fabric performance

Reports published by Joseph Rountree Foundation

Temple Avenue Project: energy efficient homes for the 21st century
Temple Avenue Project: Energy efficient refurbished homes for the 21st century
Temple Avenue Project: energy efficient homes for the 21st century
67 Temple Avenue: Energy efficient refurbished homes for the 21st century
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