HOUSE

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Dept of Mechanical Engineering

Abstract

HOUSE is an interactive tool of enabled elements allowing a team of stakeholders to 'play'. The elements each represent an eco-intervention such as passive ventilation, insulation, a heat pump and solar panels. A team of users that might include an architect, an HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) company, a constructor and the owner 'play' at configuring the elements and exploring the multiple interrelated attributes of the interventions. In essence this is smart RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) devices meets Dolls-House. The aim of this research is to explore and quantify to what extent a dolls-house approach to eco-design enables improves stakeholder interaction and what elements and interface provide effective design aids.

Planned Impact

This proposal enables impact by boosting consumer understanding and choice, providing new opportunities for eco-tech companies and providing a route by which energy saving treatments and generation technology can be introduced to both hard to treat and newer housing stock.

The HOUSE concept provides a new approach to interaction between a customer and energy solution provider. Although the precise nature of HOUSE will only become apparent as a result of the research undertaken here, the potential is to open up the marketplace.

As an example of the scope of impact to impact on the lives of many millions of people just in the UK, the vast majority of the UK's 6.5 million hard to treat homes have suspended timber floors which let cold air, dust and mould in from the void below, creating cold draughts and uneven temperatures, which significantly impacts occupants comfort, disproportionately to the amount of heat lost. Recent studies demonstrate that un-insulated timber floors can contribute as much as a quarter of the total heat loss for these period properties. The addressable UK market for underfloor retrofit insulation exceeds 6 million homes, worth more than £16.5bn in retrofits. The two initial target market segments are:
1. Social Housing Providers: Local councils and housing associations represent a clear and addressable market and combined account for 600k 'hard to treat' older properties, and a currently untapped market for under floor insulation worth up to a £250m per year.
2. Owner Occupiers: Accounting for 4.25m 'hard to treat' homes, owner occupier's represent a large but fragmented market.

Private landlords are characteristically driven by incentives to upgrade properties, in particular legislation announced by the Government that will introduce a minimum energy efficiency standard for homes rented from a landlord from 2018. Private landlords have over 1.25m 'hard to treat' older homes.

Several eco-tech measures target the worst performing buildis, social households and those in fuel poverty where there are few cost effective or practical alternatives.
1. Health and comfort: For vulnerable members of society maintaining a comfortable temperature is of high importance for the quality of life, health and well-being.
2. Disruption: This is a key factor for the majority of property owners. The using of HOUSE provides an assessment and indication of the time needed for retrofitting a dwelling.
3. Quality Control: HOUSE improves the quality of information and accountability.
4. Empowering: The construction industry faces an ageing workforce and difficulty attracting new recruits, intelligent tools like HOUSE are an important step in creating expanded and new markets for eco-tech providing modern and desirable career paths.

Each eco-tech measure has significant scope to radically impact the UK based on a range of environmental measures. Eco-Tech measures have multiple benefits ranging from: improvement to SAP Assessment Rating / EPC Certificate; air permeability improvement following air tightness test (draughts). Underfloor insulation alone provides a cost effective and practical method of treating the 6.5 million worst performing buildings in the UK that will save 5000 kWh of heating energy and 1000 kg of CO2 per home annually. With the potential to save the UK over 32 TWh/yr if fully rolled out (equivalent to about two Kingsnorth Power Stations). As well reduction in energy bills, energy usage and CO2 emissions increased adoption of eco-tech arising from the use of the HOUSE negotiation tool will consequentially result in environmental monitoring including improvements to temperatures and air quality and improved health and less cold-related deaths and associated reduced number of GP/hospital visits.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description The HOUSE research project has explored through a series of case studies the behaviours of groups of stakeholders in negotiating decisions on eco-tech recommendations to customers. These case studies have been used to define an initial specification for smart devices that can be used on a scale architectural model of a home.
• An innovative approach using tangible representations to assist stakeholders in navigating domestic retrofit and enable decision making.
• An investigation of the effect of using tangible representations, acting as a boundary object, on residential retrofit selection and decision making.
• A participatory design exercise to test whether a tangible boundary object affects the retrofit decisions of participants.
• A tangible boundary object which is self-reported to improve the decision-making processes surrounding retrofit selection.
• A strong indication that the boundary object and associated methodology improves stakeholder engagement and decision outcome.
Exploitation Route The HOUSE research project has explored through a series of case studies the behaviours of groups of stakeholders in negotiating decisions on eco-tech recommendations to customers. These case studies have been used to define an initial specification for smart devices that can be used on a scale architectural model of a home. An app and a boundary object have been produced and trialed and the arising data indicates the value of using these to improve decision making in the case of eco-tech
Sectors Construction,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Energy,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

 
Description The goal of the project was to develop a novel decision support tool called HOUSE to facilitate retrofit selection for stakeholders in the domestic built environment. Such a tool should utilise tangible representations to allow stakeholders to interact with domestic retrofit information through tangible media. Current retrofit selection tools are complex methodologies and software tools, requiring extensive training and guidance. This project has explored and quantified through participatory processes to what extent a Tangible Boundary Object (TBO) approach to retrofit dialogue and selection enables improved stakeholder interaction and what elements and interfaces can provide effective decision tools. The evidence from the workshops suggests that participants felt that the HOUSE tool provided increased collaboration amongst the group of participants and improved consensus. The evidence from the industry workshop suggests that the participants felt that the HOUSE tool improved the decision-making process surrounding retrofit selection and that the HOUSE tool could assist in transmitting findings in meaningful ways to those (non-experts in the field). The HOUSE concept was found to have the potential to act as a transdisciplinary boundary object, engaging non-scientists in shaping and achieving societal goals.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Construction,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Energy,Environment
Impact Types Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Atkins 
Organisation WS Atkins
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution "Thoughtful Buildings" project "Design for Future Living" project
Collaborator Contribution Engagement with the HOUSE project and related new projects arising from discussions
Impact Engagement with the HOUSE project and related new projects arising from discussions
Start Year 2017
 
Title HOUSE (a tangible boundary object and digital application). 
Description The tangible interface represents the house of the user and the possible retrofitting elements called 'interventions', while the digital interface is a software that can show in real time the energy and financial impact of the eco-tech intervention. A digital application as outlined in Figure 11 and shown in Figure 10 was developed in order to provide a visualisation of the HOUSE status. A bespoke circuit and RFID tags were used to enable the interventions and allow them to communicate with the model and the digital application. When an intervention was applied to the model (input), the digital application senses this input event and alters its state. The digital application provides feedback (output event) to show the impact of the addition or removal of an intervention. The digital application displays a series of properties such as total installation cost, annual savings on bills and annual CO2 savings based on the interventions currently added to the property. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact The effectiveness of the HOUSE tool was evaluated through a series of interviews, pilot studies and workshops and compared with the outcomes of an equal number of participants provided with solely the digital applicant or conventional pen and paper resources. The comparisons revealed that the HOUSE tool has the potential to act as an effective boundary object and enhance the dialogue and retrofit solutions participants investigate. 
 
Description BP and Imperial - Hackspaces and Start-Ups Imperial College Advanced Hackspace (ICAH) representative. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact 23rd September 2016
BP and Imperial - Hackspaces and Start-Ups Imperial College Advanced Hackspace (ICAH) representative
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Invited to present HOUSE project as part of the Imperial College Advanced Hackspace (ICAH) Demo day http://www.imperial.ac.uk/advanced-hackspace/news-and-events/. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact 11-12th October 2016
Invited to present HOUSE project as part of the Imperial College Advanced Hackspace (ICAH) Demo day
http://www.imperial.ac.uk/advanced-hackspace/news-and-events/.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialcollege/centres/icah/eventssummary/event_4-10-...
 
Description Invited to present HOUSE project as part of the Science museum power to the people event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 21st October 2016
Invited to present HOUSE project as part of the Science museum power to the people event
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/visitmuseum/plan_your_visit/events/workshops/power-to-the-people
 
Description Invited to present the HOUSE project as part of the Natural History Museum Late event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 28th October 2016
Presented HOUSE project as part of the Natural History Museum Late event
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Keynote: Modular Thermal Energy Storage. 9th June 2016. Thermal Energy Storage 2016. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Keynote Modular Thermal Energy Storage.
9th June 2016. Thermal Energy Storage 2016.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016