The UK Government strategy for all new homes to be built to zero carbon standards by 2016 is based upon a “fabric first” approach to design. This means prioritising energy efficiency improvements to the building envelope through: increasing overall levels of insulation; reducing thermal bridging; and making buildings more airtight. However, recent research has raised concerns about the standards that are actually achieved in the construction of new housing. More robust quality assurance procedures for construction work may be required to ensure that energy efficiency targets are met in practice. One potential approach is the use of thermal imaging (thermography) to inspect new buildings at different stages during the construction process. The effectiveness of this technique has been tested during the construction of two affordable housing projects in Swansea, UK. Thermal performance issues were identified at both of the schemes, including infiltration through the building envelope and poor insulation of ductwork for mechanical ventilation systems. The results of these two case studies illustrate some practical considerations for the application of the thermography technique and also shortcomings in the current approach to determining compliance with energy performance requirements in UK Building Regulations. This research topic will be of interest to housing developers, built environment professionals, thermographers and researchers interested in methods of investigating the thermal performance of new housing.
Checking “fabric first” really works: in-construction tests using thermography
33rd AIVC Conference " Optimising Ventilative Cooling and Airtightness for [Nearly] Zero-Energy Buildings, IAQ and Comfort", Copenhagen, Denmark, 10-11 October 2012