Infrared: from warfare to housing
Back in the 1800’s Herschel discovered infrared energy by repeating Isaac Newton’s prism experiment and splitting white light into the visible spectrum.
Fast forward to the 20th Century and John Logie Baird demonstrated his infrared camera in Box Hill, Surrey. This was an amazing step forward in technology, giving us the ability to see and capture an image of the infrared end of the electromagnetic spectrum, i.e. energy being radiated from objects.
Sadly, the most common current application for the technology is mainly in the warfare industry and how to kill each other more efficiently: see the enemy in the dark when they can’t see you or bolt cameras onto missiles so they may seek out hot bodies, etc.
So how does the technology used in a heat-seeking missile help today’s housing portfolio manager? It may sound like a large step, but it is actually quite a small, but important one.
Infrared: the right technology for housing stock portfolio assessment
Essentially, the camera technology has kept advancing, becoming smaller, lighter, more affordable and easier to use. Price continues to be one of the most important aspects of the tech going main stream. Aside from price and ergonomics, the cameras now can be used at room temperature.
Go back to the 1980’s and the equipment had to be kept at absolute zero. That’s -273 degrees F. Liquid nitrogen had to be carried around on site, together with a VHS to record black and white images. This was less than ideal if you were trying to climb a ladder for a roof survey at midnight.
Today, the cameras can be used to both see and quantify the energy loss thanks to software innovation, progress in camera technology and in-depth understanding of building physics.
Housing stock portfolio assessment: A 7 step-recipe
The recipe to rapid and impartial portfolio assessment goes something like this:–
Only one ingredient required:
Your housing portfolio details
- After talking to us about your requirements and agreeing a price, send your portfolio details to us at IRT surveys.
- We will automatically find and fill your “data gaps” with dynamic assumptions from our database of 250 SAP models.
- The software then processed your stock through SAP2012, thereafter created a targeted survey list.
- We then physically image every building on the list via our UK network of qualified IRT thermographers.
- We then augment, analyse and send you back the resultant dataset on a spreadsheet you can import into your current asset management software.
- Alternatively, the images can be uploaded into thehousesurvey web portal, where you can interrogate and interact with your portfolio. You can also run simulations, click a home on Google maps and see a bespoke energy report for that home. UPRN codes also mean you can let the home owner see only their home, should you wish. Ideal for before and after quality assurance.
- Lastly, should you prefer, the data can be loaded instead into DREam. A monthly subscription based asset management tool that auto audits your stock and alerts you directly when retrofits become economically viable or legislatively required.
Housing stock portfolio assessment: Your questions
Infrared is a fantastic way to engage tenants and owners in the energy efficiency journey, but Board members and accountants will always require more than just a “pretty picture” to justify refurbishment and upgrade. In isolation, infrared images just aren’t enough to answer all the questions you will be asked to justify the refurbishment questions.
We regularly get asked the following questions:
- How much will it cost? See the answer here
- How much will I save?
- What’s the point?
- Is funding available?
- What’s the impact on the EPC rating?
- Is there legislation that means we have to do this?
- If we do nothing, what’s the risk?
- Are there alternative ways to mitigate risk?
- What will happen to the asset value if we do nothing?
Alone, infrared thermal imaging cannot answer these questions, only a skilled and experienced manager armed with accurate data stands a chance of doing that.
Even then, once you are a master of data, a “God of housing stock management”, you will merge with another association who doesn’t have the same level of insight you have developed and the process starts all over again, only this time bigger! We did just that for a client recently with 10,000 homes – all the result of 5 associations merging over the years. The previous managers had been let go to save overheads, but the remaining staff had little to no understanding of the inherited stock.
Today’s housing portfolio managers know there are challenges and are trying new and innovative ways to deliver the measures the buildings need in order to maintain their value and ensure their longevity. Similarly, board members looking to mitigate risk and protect their assets are always looking for innovative ways to improve efficiency, support the team and deliver value for the tenants.
Take appropriate action today and contact us to discuss your current challenges and find out how we can help you unlock energy efficiency.