Climate change adaptation of retrofitted social housing in the south-east of England

  • Arianna Sdei

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis is an investigation into the implications that a warming climate has for the housing retrofit programme recently completed at Rushenden on the Isle of Sheppey that was the subject of the EU Interreg research project IFORE (Innovation for Renewal, 2010- 2014). The aim of this thesis is to inform UK public policy on social housing retrofit, as to whether we are pursuing the correct goal by retrofitting with insulation and air-tightness, a strategy to conserve heat, rather than one that would also combat summertime overheating. The community of Rushenden was used as a case study to develop a specific adaptation strategy for retrofitted social housing in the South-East of England. Gaps in knowledge were identified relating to the role that insulation and air-tightness has in reducing or increasing the overheating risk, and the analysis of a wider range of shading strategies. The measures were discussed with sixteen households during completion of the adaptations questionnaire and three focus groups. Six households completed daily a longitudinal comfort questionnaire, over a period of two months. Monitoring of internal and external temperatures was carried out as part of IFORE but in addition questions about overheating were included by the author within the three IFORE questionnaires that were submitted to one hundred households during the timescale of the project. Two models were built in ESP-r, a European standard building simulation tool: a singlestorey and a two-storey house type. Dynamic thermal modelling, incorporating future weather files, was used to evaluate different specifications of insulation and air-tightness and the climate change adaptation measures. Future heating and cooling loads were calculated and the overheating risk was assessed using the adaptive comfort algorithm. The first results from the simulations showed that the light type of retrofit installed by IFORE will reduce both the heating load and the cooling load in 2030s, 2050s and 2080s. On the other hand, a deeper type of retrofit that complies with the Passivhaus standard U-value for wall insulation, and air-tightness, will reduce the heating load but increase the cooling load. Despite reduction of overheating risk using the lighter type of retrofit, the living room of the single storey house will not meet the adaptive comfort set of criteria and should be classed as “overheating”. The installation of internal white, opaque roller blinds, will meet the adaptive comfort criteria and eliminate the need for cooling in both the single and two storey houses. The adaptation measures were discussed in terms of their practicality, affordability and the interaction between occupant and technology. The discussion arising from this work is to judge the wider application of its results as a guide to retrofit decision-making.
Date of AwardNov 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Brighton

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