Cutting-Edge Retrofit vs Simple Behavior Change: Green Strategies Go Head-to-Head


Image credit: Bioregional Development Group

From the Clinton Foundation's Global Energy Efficiency Building Retrofit Program to a major prize for sustainably 'reskinning' old buildings, there's a lot to be said for improving the efficiency of our existing building stock. But upgrading old buildings can be an expensive business, and once you tackle the low hanging fruit, there is inevitably a law of diminishing returns. So just how far should we go in retrofitting old buildings, and how much can be achieved by simple measures like behavior change—a new flagship project aims to find out. Created by the good people at The Bioregional Development Group in London, the Sutton retrofit initiative will see three properties receiving a green helping hand—but to three very different degrees. One will be transformed into a super eco-home and see energy use slashed by 80% (including solar thermal and photovoltaic panels, cavity insulation, and even tackling subjects like food and transportation), one gets improved to the national decent homes standard (this includes a furnace upgrade, insulation, and new windows), while all three will have expert advice on adopting eco-behaviors from a 'green coach'. This way, experts will be able to monitor exactly how much energy is saved with all the cutting edge (and expensive!) improvements, and how much is saved by more low cost measures.

The idea is part of a wider effort from the UK government that is funding 87 low-carbon social housing projects around the country that have a wide scope for replication. Sue Riddlestone, Director of BioRegional said: "Behaviour change is an essential part of the eco-puzzle. This innovative project will add a useful contribution to the field by looking at people and technology in tandem".

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