Buckfastleigh Transition Town – for a sustainable future for Buckfastleigh, Devon
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  • 18th December – Phase 1 Complete

    Posted on December 22nd, 2009 andy No comments

    Retrofit – phase 2?

    Well the retrofit phase 2 funding bid went has gone in – we just have to wait to see if the bid has been successful – we should be notified in January.

    What are the chances?
    In the end it was decided that only one property out of the 3 evaluated would be addressed within the bid for the £150,000 phase 2 funding to implement the retrofit. This makes sense as it I think the budget was being pushed to achieve the 80% reduction in carbon emissions within that figure anyway – to have spread this spending over 3 properties would have meant a massive reduction in the target emissions achievable. The actual property to be modified has not been specified at this stage, so if the funding is approved, it will be a bit of a lottery.

    As I mentioned previously, there is about a 50% chance that each project that has applied will receive funding, this means the chance of our property being chosen drops down to about about a third of that or 1 in 6, so we won’t be getting our hopes up too much. This is a shame since this cold weather we are having right now, and especially the strong winds recently, have really found all the holes in the fabric and pumped the heat out, It’s at this time of the year that it suddenly sounds like a really good idea – brrrrr!

    On the plus side, the Housing Association (Sovereign) propose making some of the less costly changes proposed in this scheme to the other 2 similar properties. This will act as a useful ‘control’ to get some idea how much difference overall the more major works make, and how effective comparatively less dramatic modifications might be in reducing carbon footprint. These results may well prove useful, since there has never been any indication AFAIK on the part of the government as to where the funding for this countrywide carbon-reduction will come from – perhaps it might be more achievable to fund lesser reductions on a more practical budget at this stage.

    Thermal Imaging

    The thermal imaging (infra-red photography) team had previously turned up early on November 9th and taken some photos. It wasn’t a very cold day (about 14C outside) and we hadn’t had the heating on long (obviously we were supposed to put it on specially for them!), so the differential between interior and exterior temperatures was not ideal (this works best if the there is a 10 C differential apparently).

    Here is a photo of the front of the house…

    Thermal image of the front of our house

    Thermal image of the front of our house

    As you can see it shows up the draughty bits in the ill-fitting sash windows. The little window above the front door is another leaky place since there is a radiator there that for some reason we cant switch off – daft


    The final plan includes a thick (150mm) layer of wood-fibre board internal insulation to all the external walls (the engineers have been sympathetic to our desire to keep the use of synthetic materials to a minimum wherever possible, and I guess are also looking to keep the level of embodied energy in the building materials as low as possible also).

    The idea of insulating below suspended wooden floors was discussed but it was decided that it was too difficult to do effectively – with possible air leaks round joist ends and between beams etc., so in the end it was decided to dig out the floors and lay new solid floors with a layer of insulation beneath – this makes it easy to create an air-tight space where the wall insulation meets the floor.

    The existing single-glazed sash windows would be covered up with secondary double glazed units, again to fit snugly to the edge of the internal insulation, so no cold air can leak through.

    The aim is to get the building airtight to a permeability of 3 m3/hr/m2*. The airflow to the interior would be as much as possible now be through HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilation) units – any warm air leaving the house would be transferred to the cold air coming in. In theory, this would allow us as much ventilation as we want, but in a controlled manner (not sneaking in through every crack as it is now), and pre-warmed. The problem of the leaky cat-flap and door furniture on the front door would be fixed in the only practical manner possible – the creation of another, internal secondary door in the hallway, to act as an airlock (still with another cat-flap fitted, unfortunately for the engineers).

    An efficient wood burner with direct external air duct, and passive solar water heating panel will be fitted to keep the use of the new, more efficient, gas boiler to a minimum.

    As you can imagine, this work will cause major disruption, and there is no chance of us tenants staying in the house while it takes place. We would have to move out for 4-6 weeks and move most of our stuff out too – the Housing Association assure us they have identified short-term re-housing in the local area.

    Till next time – Stay Warm!