In addition to delivering reductions in energy consumption, the renovation of the Wilmcote House aimed to extend the lifetime of the buildings and transform their visual appearance to create attractive living conditions for the residents.
Poor housing and its consequences
Portsmouth’s 100-home Wilmcote House development in the UK was built at a time when energy performance was less of a priority than it is today. Constructed in 1968 from prefabricated concrete panels that had just 25mm of insulation, it also featured electric heating that makes it very costly for residents to stay warm indoors. As a result, many residents were unable to afford adequate heating their homes. This is a serious issue in Europe, where 10.8 per cent of people cannot afford to keep their homes warm. Countries with the worst performing housing have higher winter mortality rates in both warm and cold climates. In Europe, over 80 million people also live in damp homes, which can cause respiratory illnesses.
At Wilmcote House, although residents liked their flats and the location, poor energy performance was a major problem. It led to high heating bills and homes with an unhealthy indoor climate caused by mould, damp and condensation, which can adversely affect health. Recognising that poor insulation was the main problem, the City Council embarked on a major energy efficiency upgrade, designed by ECD Architects to the EnerPHit standard, the Passive House Standard for retrofit. The aim was to reduce heating demand by 90 per cent and extend the building’s lifespan by 30 years.
Deep retrofit improving living conditions
Prior to the renovation, the buildings were in very poor condition, resulting in an unhealthy indoor climate. Two thirds of the residents were experiencing excessive cold and damp in the winter and many were worried about rising energy bills. Insulation made a tangible difference. Significantly reducing heat loss through the thermal envelope by insulating the building wall, along with other measures, will help the project meet the EnerPHit standards. The entire neighbourhood has gone through an architectural upgrade and by using durable and high quality materials, the residents’ positive perceptions of the new neighbourhood is now expected to endure for decades.
The “deep retrofit” project involved different insulation measures, with ROCKWOOL REDArt ® providing external wall insulation, Rockpanel® used for cladding and a selection of fire protection products included for fire safety. The result will not only help take residents out of fuel poverty – it will also make Wilmcote House a more pleasant and safe place to live.