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Research findings

EPCs as efficiency targets

Many organisations and local authorities are searching for a way to measure their progress towards a net zero built environment.  In the domestic sector, every home has an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) which gives an Energy Efficiency Rating between 1 and 100.  It might therefore seem like a good idea to use the EPC rating as a metric to drive lower emissions in both existing and new housing.

However, the EPC mechanism and its supporting calculation isn’t designed to do this and, furthermore, has failed to keep pace with a rapidly decarbonising grid.  As of 2020, electricity emissions are 30% less than those associated with gas.  But the EPC calculation still assumes that electricity produces more than twice the level of emissions. EPCs are also designed to be compliance tools which means that the supporting calculation has some necessary assumptions and limitations. The result is that using the EPC rating alone to try and drive energy efficiency is unlikely to have any effect.

To illustrate why, and to suggest an alternative, the Passivhaus Trust has produced a short paper which sets out how EPCs work, their limitations and what alternatives might produce better results.

Author: Passivhaus Trust

Publication date: April 2020

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Report Research findings

Refreshing the Cambridgeshire Quality Charter for Growth

URBED were asked to advise on how greater cohesion or social inclusion could be achieved in future developments, by considering the current principles in the light of published research and international best practice, and this took the form of a separate report on Creating Cohesive Communities.

They also were asked to make recommendations on assessing performance, and have considered the options for evaluating the quality of what has been built. This report summarises the conclusions and the evidence is set out in five appendices.


Author: URBED

Publication date: January 2019

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Case Study Report Research findings

GHA Monitoring Programme

Phase 1

This report provides an overview of the findings, observations and recommendations resulting from Phase 1 of the Good Homes Alliance (GHA) monitoring programme. Phase 1 is based on post-construction testing of a series of new-build residential projects, across a range of construction types.

This project was funded by DCLG, EST and NHBC Foundation.

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Phase 2

This document focuses on the key results of the Phase 2 Post-Occupation Evaluation and compares the findings of the in-use performance data from the houses in terms of energy and water consumption and Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), the performance of installed building services, and occupant behaviour/ perceptions.

This project was funded by DCLG, EST and NHBC Foundation.

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Case studies

The following projects were used as case studies for the research:

Old Apple Store, Stawell

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Derwenthorpe

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One Brighton

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Report Research findings

Preventing Overheating

High temperatures in homes are known to cause real problems for occupants. These range from discomfort and mild health effects, to serious health effects. Elderly people and other vulnerable groups are most at risk from these effects, and with an aging population, greater urbanisation and climate change predicted, the risk of overheating needs to be addressed.


Author: Good Homes Alliance

Publication date: February 2014

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Case Study Report Research findings

LowCarb4Real

Drawing on detailed academic studies at Stamford Brook along with GHA member experience, the GHA disseminated and implement this learning by providing education and technical support to GHA Developer members and others.

The LowCarb4Real project, funded through the UrbanBuzz programme (project No. 388), lies in the UrbanBuzz target area “Energy efficiency and sustainable housing: harnessing academic understanding”. As is recognised in the Urban Buzz programme, the contribution made to sustainable communities by reducing carbon emissions from housing is considerable.

Case studies

Information about how to achieve good performance on sustainable housing projects was then collected and a number of detailed case studies including:

Lincoln Grove, Bladon

Lincoln Grove is a development of 9 x 2 and 3 bed homes near Woodstock, 9 miles from Oxford, constructed in 2007. The homes were awarded EcoHomes excellent, scoring 77 credits, the same as BedZED. The homes have been subsequently re-assessed under the Code for Sustainable Homes and achieved level 3.

Download Summary

Download Thermal Bridging Report

Download Airtightness Report

One Brighton

One Brighton at Blocks E & F, New England Quarter, is a mixed-use scheme sitting within a mixed-use neighbourhood developed in a joint venture by Crest Nicholson and BioRegional Quintain.

Download Summary

Download Thermal Bridging Report

Download Airtightness Report

Old Apple Store, Stawell

The Old Apple Store is a development of 5 new family homes, with one existing unit retained and completely refurbished. The site nestles within the site of the old apple store in the picturesque village of Stawell in Somerset.

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Download Thermal Bridging Report

Download Airtightness Report

Final report

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Author: Good Homes Alliance

Publication date: November 2011