Reinventing the house of the future

Posted: Friday 1st November 2013

BRE launches exemplar retrofit project, The Smart Home, on its Watford site. The house demonstrates the significant energy savings that can be made through smart technology alongside fabric improvements and occupant empowerment.

BRE's pioneering future-focused Integer House, built 15 years ago, has undergone an extensive retrofit and renamed The Smart Home. Through a joint BRE and British Gas project, it has been re-equipped with a host of ultra energy-efficient features and functions, making it super fit for the future.

Using cutting-edge technology, design and building techniques, the innovative retrofit has made the house 50% more energy efficient and halved its carbon emissions, upgrading it from an E to an A/B EPC rating.

An intelligent, whole house living system with occupation sensors for a range of purposes controls the heating, lighting, ventilation, water and security. The latest air source heat pump technology has been integrated to provide heating via app-enabled advanced controls, and improvements have been made to the solar thermal water heating and air tightness.

The house has a new-to-market solar thermal system, and an integrated PV array has been installed into the conservatory glazing to generate most of the home's energy requirements and shade clear glass against excess heat. Innovative 3 mm thick insulating plaster has been applied finished in heat-reflective paint to improve thermal performance, whilst paint with light-reflective particles on the internal walls dramatically increases brightness and reduces lighting needs.

Speaking at the launch BRE CEO Peter Bonfield said: “The Smart Home will inspire and influence the industry in the same way as it did in its original guise as the Integer House. Thanks to our partners British Gas and the many others who been involved in delivering the project’

With the Smart Home we wanted to address a range of issues that relatively recent homes might face like energy efficiency and overheating but also look at the next generation of innovations that our existing and new homes and their occupants will benefit from. The project will enable informed decisions to be made about design, products and installation, and how occupants interface with buildings though smart technology.”

To counteract upper floor overheating, Phase Change Material (PCM) has been incorporated into the upper floor walls. Ducted skirting, reclaimed timber floors and an FSC certified kitchen have been fitted, and doors and windows have been replaced with the latest uPVC double glazing incorporating recycled uPVC. The very latest Velux windows have been installed, and the front door showcases new generation electronic locking, including a car style remote key.

Kerry Pollard MP said "Energy costs are at the forefront of people's minds now and this issue is moving right up the political agenda. The Smart Home initiative is a major step forward in securing renewable energy and a most exciting development for BRE."

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