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Refurbishment of Traditional Buildings: Energy Efficiency

1.2 – Lay description: Provide a brief outline of the project, including what participants will be required to do. This description must be in everyday language which is free from jargon. Please explain any technical terms or discipline-specific phrases. (no more than 350 words)

The general focus of this research is the upgrade of traditional urban buildings in use with the purpose of increasing their energy performance, preserving ate the same time their heritage value. This research aims to cross the fields of historic and traditional buildings refurbishment and energy efficiency as a pathway to address climate change mitigation by reducing CO2 emissions.

From the general overview of literature it is possible to conclude that the treatment of traditional architecture as inadequate to meet the current targets of mandatory energy efficiency is not completely true, because their thermal passive characteristics gives them potential for meeting energy efficiency standards.

This research project involves the analysis of the traditional building typologies in the specific case of Oporto’s historical centre, in order to model their current energy performance and simulate the possible gains that could be achieved through sensitive refurbishment practices that do not unduly damage the heritage value of those buildings.

In order to be able to simulate the energy performance of the buildings it is essential to understand user behaviour in selected number of households. This will require the collection of data concerning energy consumption and patterns of their use.

1.3 – Aims of and justification for the research: State the aims and significance of the project. Where relevant, state the specific hypothesis to be tested. Also provide a brief description of the proposed research, a justification as to why this research should proceed and an explanation of any expected benefits to the community. Please provide full references for any work referred to. (no more than 700 words)

In the last 15 years an increasing number of literature addresses the relation of thermal characteristics and energy efficiency on traditional or vernacular buildings in a large number of countries, with several examples from the Mediterranean.

This interest confirms the general framework research which has been developed pointing to the passive characteristics of traditional architecture as a pathway to improve the thermal behaviour of contemporary buildings through the use of traditional materials or techniques (Kim et al, 2010). A much larger research thematic addresses the traditional buildings energy efficiency improvement, taking advantage of their passive characteristics (Dili et al, 2010; Fuller et al, 2009; Martin et al, in press; Singh et al, 2010), incorporating in them the current standards of sustainable architecture (Campagna et al, 2008; Jones et al, 2009).

This field of research is also extensive to institutions as Building Research Establishment – BRE (Coad et al, 1990; Sluce et al, 1991; Yates, 2006), with practical guidance in the sustainable refurbishment of Victorian buildings. In the past ten years English Heritage (EH) has also invested in the field of traditional and historic buildings refurbishment in order to meet current standards. The most recent concern is directed to climate change and sustainability (English Heritage, 2008a), in general, and energy efficiency, in specific, following the EPBD translation into UK national regulation (English Heritage, 2006, 2007a, 2007b). The development of microgeneration and the application of renewable energies in traditional buildings is also another concern of this institution (English Heritage, 2008b, 2008c, 2008d), due to the delicate balance between preserving the heritage values and introducing this energy production equipments in the historic environment.

In Portugal, following decades of physical and social urban decay, the government approved in 2004 a legal framework in order to reverse this trend. The Oporto Urban Rehabilitation Company was the first institution to be created in the framework of the law, leading to a large urban renewal scheme in Oporto Historic core, whose targets are the traditional buildings.

In parallel, a new thermal regulation was approved in 2006 (RCCTE), following the European «Energy Performance of Buildings Directive» (EPBD). This regulation is accompanied by the «National Certification System of Energy», which labels the buildings according to their energy consumption and CO2 emissions. It’s mandatory for all new buildings to meet the new requirements of the RCCTE, which establishes maximum annual rates of energy consumption for heating, cooling and water heating. The regulation also applies to existing buildings in major refurbishment interventions or major alterations in the buildings envelope or on their equipment. This types of intervention are understood the as those that cost 25% or more of the total value of the building. As in EPBD, Interventions for renovation, restoration and expansion in buildings listed or located in historical areas, are excluded where the application of the requirements of the regulation proves to be incompatible with the maintenance of buildings heritage integrity. However, incompatibility has to be proven and accepted by the licensing entities, the municipalities, which, without clear guidance, is rather vague and casuistic, especially in the case of traditional buildings without specific protection or undoubtedly historic or artistic values.

In the specific case of Oporto, the detailed data available from the local energy agency (AdEPorto 2008) revealed that buildings energy demand represent 58% of total consumption in the city of Oporto, divided between 24% for housing and 34% for services, which is high compared to both European and Portuguese averages. The same study also identified that residential buildings in Oporto are responsible for 1.18 ton/CO2 emissions per capita.

In this context, the question is how can we take advantage of this major traditional buildings refurbishment process in order to improve their environmental performance and at the same time safeguard their intrinsic heritage value?

The research aims then to provide concrete solutions addressing directly the mitigation of the environmental problems mentioned above and allowing the households to reduce their carbon footprint as well as their fuel consumption, maintaining the characteristics of traditional buildings and improving comfort in their use.

AdEPorto (2008) Matriz Energética do Porto, AdEPorto, Oporto.

Campagna, B. A. and P. Frey (2008). “The Impact of Evolving LEED Standards on Historic Preservation Projects.” Journal of Green Building 3(4): 21-31.

Coad, J. and M. Finbow (1990). Energy-efficient refurbishment of a Victorian primary school. Energy Efficient Demonstration Scheme report. BRE. London

Dili, A. S., M. A. Naseer, et al. (2010). “Passive control methods of Kerala traditional architecture for a comfortable indoor environment: A comparative investigation during winter and summer.” Building and Environment 45(5): 1134-1143.

English Heritage (2005) Wind Energy and the Historic Environment. English Heritage, London.

English Heritage (2006) Biomass Energy and the Historic Environment. English Heritage, London.

English Heritage (2007a) Energy conservation in traditional buildings. English Heritage London.

English Heritage (2007b) English Heritage Guidance: Understanding SAP ratings for historic and traditional homes. English Heritage, London.

English Heritage (2008a) Climate Change and the Historic Environment (2nd edition). English Heritage, London.

English Heritage (2008b) Micro-wind generation and traditional buildings. English Heritage, London.

English Heritage (2008c) Small-scale solar electric (photovoltaics) energy and traditional buildings. English Heritage, London.

English Heritage (2008d) Small scale thermal energy and traditional buildings. English Heritage, London.

Fuller, R. J., A. Zahnd, et al. (2009). “Improving comfort levels in a traditional high altitude Nepali house.” Building and Environment 44(3): 479-489.

Jones, B., P. Dahl, et al. (2009). “Greening Existing Buildings with the LEED Rating System.” Journal of Green Building 4(1): 41-57.

Kim, T. J. and J. S. Park (2010). “Natural ventilation with traditional Korean opening in contemporary house.” Building and Environment 45(1): 51-57.

Martín, S., F. R. Mazarrón, et al. “Study of thermal environment inside rural houses of Navapalos (Spain): The advantages of reuse buildings of high thermal inertia.” Construction and Building Materials In Press, Corrected Proof.

Singh, M. K., S. Mahapatra, et al. (2010). “Thermal performance study and evaluation of comfort temperatures in vernacular buildings of North-East India.” Building and Environment 45(2): 320-329.

Sluce, A. J. A. and D. Tong (1991). Energy efficient refurbishment of Victorian terraced housing: a demonstration for Merseyside Improved Houses, Liverpool. Energy Efficiency Demonstration Scheme report. BRE. London, BRE – Building Research Establishment.

Yates, T. (2006). Sustainable refurbishment of Victorian housing: guidance, assessment method and case studies. BRE Trust, Watford.

1.4 – Proposed method: Provide an outline of the proposed method, including details of data collection techniques, tasks participants will be asked to do, the estimated time commitment involved, and how data will be analysed. If the project includes any procedure which is beyond already established and accepted techniques please include a description of it. (no more than 500 words)

The global methodological objective is to cross refurbishment measures for each traditional building typology identified with their energy performance improvement, balancing the result with the maintenance of buildings heritage intrinsic values.

After defining the general research framework and concepts trough literature review, the next step was to identify the traditional buildings typologies, through direct survey and GIS/statistic analysis. From a total of 311 buildings, which compose the selected research area, 191 have been identified as meeting the research criteria (built before the end of the XIX Century and been mainly or exclusively residential). From those, 15 homes have been selected as they represent the Oporto traditional buildings homes typologies identified and will be analysed in detail and modelled for energy efficiency purposes.

Afterwards, energy performance of building typology case studies will be modelled with the software Virtual Environment 6.05 using the physical data obtained from the direct survey complemented with available surveys from Oporto SRU. The case studies will be analyzed in two different stages: in the original situation and in several simulations, in order to identify eventual improvements and the most effective measures.

The last stage consists in the validation of the most effective refurbishment measures to achieve better energy performance without disrupting heritage value of traditional buildings. This will be done by crossing the information in a matrix, validating or rejecting the measures according with their impact on buildings heritage key significance elements identified, their simulation results in terms of energy performance and CO2 reduction and the costs involved (economical and environmental).

The households that will be recruited to voluntary participate in the study are the ones living in the homes selected from the identified typologies. The filling of the questionnaire will provide additional data about human behaviour in relation to their built environment which will allow performing more accurate simulations avoiding some bias. The households must agree to participate and be living in their homes for at least 1 year or another building corresponding to the same typology will be chosen.

The information required from the participants include one year energy data consumption (retrofitting), identification of patterns of behaviour that influence energy use, available equipment (heating, cooling, appliances and lighting), general degree of satisfaction with several parameters of building use and identification of sense of identity related to their building and historic zone. The households survey will consist in direct semi-structured interviews to complete the questionnaire, informally inquire about heritage values and obtain the energy consumption data.

1.5 – Investigator’s qualifications, experience and skills

List the academic qualifications and outline the experience and skills relevant to this project that the researchers and any supporting staff have in carrying out the research and in dealing with any emergencies, unexpected outcomes, or contingencies that may arise.

The supervisory team, namely Dr. Aylin Orbasli and Dr. Rajat Gupta have experience in direct surveys as the one proposed in this research project.

1.6 – Please explain when, how, where, and to whom results will be disseminated, including whether participants will be provided with any information on the findings or outcomes of the project:

The project findings will be included in the PhD thesis and will be disseminated by publication in academic journals. In parallel, the participants in the survey will be informed of the results, and practical recommendations on how to save energy and money in their specific case will be given directly and personally to them.

1.7 – Will the research be undertaken only on-site at Oxford Brookes University

(If NO give details)

The research is also being undertaken at Porto Historical Centre in Portugal.

2.2 – Number, Age Range and Source of Participants

Provide number, age range and source of participants. Please provide an explanation for your proposed sample size (including details of statistical power of the sample, where appropriate) and state any exclusion or inclusion criteria.

This survey is directed to households, not to individuals. The participants (persons that will fill the questionnaire) will be above 18 years old and will represent their households. The participants source derives from the direct survey performed to identify the traditional buildings typology. From a total of 311 buildings, which compose the selected research area, 191 have been identified as meeting the research criteria (built before the end of the XIX Century and been mainly or exclusively residential). From those, 15 homes have been selected as they represent the Oporto traditional buildings homes typologies identified and will be analysed in detail and modelled for energy efficiency purposes. The households that will participate in the study are the ones living in the homes selected from the identified typologies. The voluntary filling of the questionnaire will provide additional data about human behaviour in relation to the built environment which will allow for more accurate building simulations to be performed. The households must be living in their homes for at least 1 year as this allows establishing a correspondence between weather, energy and behaviour patterns in a normal time cycle, or will be excluded and another building corresponding to the same typology will be chosen.

2.3 – Means by which participants are to be recruited

Please provide specific details of how you will be recruiting participants. How will people be told you are doing this research? How will they be approached and asked if they are willing to participate? If you are mailing to or phoning people, please explain how you have obtained or will obtain their names and contact details. This information will need to be included in the participant information sheet. If a recruitment advertisement is to be used, please ensure you attach a copy to this application

The participants will be chosen as explained in 2.2 and will be approached personally by the researcher in the field who will conduct the survey. If possible, the support of local institutions, already contacted by the PhD research student in prior stages of this project, will be used.

3.2 – Potential risk to participants and risk management procedures

Identify, as far as possible, all potential risks to participants (e.g. physical, psychological, social, legal or economic), associated with the proposed research. Please explain what risk management procedures will be put in place.

There is no identifiable potential risk to participants. The participation is voluntary and involves only answering a questionnaire and providing 1 year energy consumption data. The potential risk of misinterpretation deriving from the survey being conducted in Portugal is avoided because the researcher in the field is Portuguese.

3.6 – Debriefing, support and/or feedback to participants (as appropriate)

What, if any, debriefing, support or feedback will participants receive following the study and when? Participants may need to talk about the experience of being involved in the study or about issues it has raised for them. Depending on risks to participants you may need to consider having additional support for participants during/after the study (e.g. external counselling). Further information on the aims of the research, their own performance and/or the results of the study may also be appropriate.

The questionnaire provides the field researcher contact, which will be available to give support and feedback to participants. In parallel, the participants in the survey will be informed of the results, and practical recommendations on how to save energy and money in their specific case will also be given to them.

3.7 – Monitoring

Please explain how the conduct of the study will be monitored, for example via the research director or supervisory team, (especially where several people are involved in recruiting or interviewing, administering procedures) to ensure that it conforms with the procedures set out in this application, the University’s Code of Practice and any guidelines published by their professional association.

The study will be monitored by the research student supervisory team.

4.2 – Have you attached to your application a copy of the Consent form? – If you are not obtaining consent in writing please explain how the informed consent process is to be documented. (Guidelines for drafting a consent form are provided on the UREC web page. Whenever possible, Oxford Brookes University letterhead should be used for consent forms.)

The survey will be done only by questionnaire. The filling of the questionnaire implies the consent, as the participation is completely voluntary.

6.1 – Will the principal investigator be responsible for security of data collected?

(if NO, please provide further details including any differences between arrangements in the field, and on return to campus.)

PhD research student in the field will be the responsible for the collected data security. The data collect and any subsequent databases, either in digital or hardcopy format, will be stored by the PhD student at their home and in their personal computer. A copy of these data will also be stored at Brookes for a five year period on completion of the research.

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