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Energy savings of 63% have been achieved following the installation of multiple Saint-Gobain systems in a world-first retrofit research project.

Saint-Gobain worked with the Energy House at Salford University and leading academics from Leeds Metropolitan University to prove that whole-house, fabric first retrofitting of homes can deliver significantly reduced energy costs, lower CO2 emissions and remove 50% of air leakage, leading to benefits in the overall comfort and well-being of occupants.

The project included Saint-Gobain systems from British Gypsum, Glassolutions, Isover and Weber to bring high levels of thermal efficiency to the building fabric. The project was carried out with extensive input from the Group’s global research and development team, Saint-Gobain Recherché.

The solid walls were insulated internally on one wall and externally on two walls (a so-called hybrid approach’), the suspended timber floor insulated and incorporated an airtightness membrane, the loft was topped-up to current standards and the glazing units upgraded to ‘A’ standard.

Saint-Gobain’s technical, training and on-site support teams, which are central to the Saint-Gobain Technical Academy network, worked closely with installers to ensure that all products were fitted as they would be by any competent installer, so that the “as built” performance was in line with the design predictions.

The approach of the project was to measure the whole-house performance post-installation using off-the-shelf Saint-Gobain systems and standard installation techniques, making the results repeatable across the UK’s hard-to-treat housing stock.

The impressive results strongly indicate that payback on projects using a Green Deal Assessment could be significantly shorter than currently predicted if Saint-Gobain whole-house solutions were installed in typical retrofit properties.

The Energy House at Salford University, is a typical 1919 terraced house that has been reconstructed in a fully environmentally controllable chamber, in which climatic conditions can be maintained, varied, repeated and patterns monitored. The building represents 21% of UK housing stock and is classed as a hard to treat property due to its poor energy efficiency derived from solid wall construction.

Richard Fitton, Technical Manager at the University of Salford Energy House Test Facility, said: “The University of Salford recognises this project as the largest and most comprehensive piece of research carried out into the performance of a domestic retrofit solution in the world to date.  This is vital data, as the construction industry at large is currently experiencing issues with how to deal with the gap between solution design and the as-built performance. This research has direct impact on those vulnerable families currently living in fuel poverty.
“Saint-Gobain is an innovative and forward thinking partner; it has a large research team both in France and UK, and the level of professionalism of these researchers is high.  This was valuable when planning the tests carried out at the Energy House, and also the knowledge gained from carrying out this research has benefited both parties.”

Unlike test houses built outdoors, conditions in the Energy House can be replicated time and time again whatever the weather is like outdoors, so the project team had the absolute confidence that the results were entirely from the installation of these Saint-Gobain systems.

Announcing the results of the three-month project, Professor Chris Gorse of Leeds Metropolitan University said: “Undertaking full-scale retrofit in a controlled environment, with three teams of experts and multiple methods of measurement represents a seminal point in building performance research.  Specifically, this project stands alone for the systematic, staged approach and analysis adopted to measure and monitor thermal upgrades. The results are impressive, considering that the baseline building had double-glazing and roof insulation and would not be considered a poor example of this type of dwelling.

“Saint-Gobain’s investment is extremely timely. While the performance debate continues, the world-leading research facility has been put to use and the opportunity to move forward testing methods and fabric performance measurement has been undertaken.”

Mark Weaver, Sector Director for Retrofit at Saint-Gobain, said: “Saint-Gobain is delighted with the results from the Energy House project, proving that the use of these systems, tackled with a systematic approach focussed upon whole-house and fabric-first, delivers not only huge energy savings but a more comfortable environment in which to live. We look forward to further analysis of results in the coming months.”

Saint-Gobain is holding seminars on the Energy House during Ecobuild, 4–6 March, on stand N750. Visit for more information and to register for a seminar session

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