In a climate in which all property owners and managers are challenged by increasingly strict energy legislation and nationwide belt tightening, a ‘game changer’ capable of benefitting all is needed now more than ever.
As a result, the ability to accurately quantify energy loss is seen as the one of the most significant technological advances of recent times in a marketplace more used to expensive, destructive and time consuming traditional survey methods.
Whilst the use of infrared thermal imaging is well established for defect detection, IRT Surveys’ patented Envision software has been developed to bring energy loss to life, allowing both domestic and commercial building owners to literally see where and how much energy is being lost.
The highly visual results not only quantify energy loss but also help prioritise refurbishment programs by providing a concrete ROI on the specific options that could be implemented. To complement
Envision, IRT has also developed the “carbon dashboard”, an interactive dynamic energy simulation tool that enables clients to upload their images and experiment in real time with how changes to their building fabric would impact their energy efficiency.
At a time when poorly planned refurbishments could result in serious legal ramifications for energy inefficient buildings, Envision is redressing the balance by giving owners an unprecedented level of confidence in what they need to do. By gathering essential data on actual building performance in-use, clients can begin to understand the value of energy savings with an accuracy that simply cannot be achieved with other methods.
How does it work?
It takes just three seconds to capture an infrared image capable of revealing everything a client needs to know about their building’s energy performance. Compare this to the traditional method of hiring highly skilled, expensive operatives to make informed but ultimately speculative assessments on the back of time consuming and destructive tests.
Envision gets to work once the image is taken, extracting radiometric data, together with metadata containing distance, emissivity, atmospheric temperatures, reflected temps and camera details. The data is then integrated to SAP or SBEM software to produce a unique report – literally showing you where you are losing energy, exactly how much and also how best to make savings.
A template system subsequently means you simply select a benchmark that best reflects your building, occupancy and usage, allowing Envision to do the rest.
The result is energy quantification of images to recognised government standards such as SBEM and SAP.
Over 150,000 properties have been surveyed with Envision, allowing clients to decide upon the best methods for refurbishment and, in some cases, the most appropriate government schemes to take advantage of.
Envision for domestic properties
Domestic households in the UK account for approximately 25% of the UK’s total emissions. As energy bills have continued to spiral, the result has been unacceptably high rates of fuel poverty in the UK.
For instance, recent studies have shown that the number of people earning too little to cover outgoings remains 300,000 higher than 2010, prior to the double dip recession. That means two out of five households across the country are either in or close to fuel poverty, while in Scotland alone, it is estimated that around 1 million homes were in the same predicament in early 2012.
According to the World Health Organisation, acceptable temperatures for elderly and infirm households are 23°C in living rooms and 18°C in other rooms for 16 hours in every 24. Meanwhile, for all other households, the figures stand at 21°C in the living room and 18°C in other rooms for nine hours in every 24.
By using Envision, these targets are far more likely to be cost-effectively achieved as clients are given visual evidence of precisely where heat and energy are escaping.
For instance, as part of the Scottish Government’s commitment to eliminating fuel poverty by 2016, IRT recently helped Aberdeen City Council assess the insulation of 22,000 of its social housing properties.
All inconsistent and poorly insulated properties were duly re-insulated, subsequently surpassing Scottish Housing Stock Standards and meeting EEC requirements.
Envision has identified energy loss in domestic properties across the world, from major projects like the aforementioned example to single dwellings. The one common denominator has been the identification of the most appropriate measures to implement for significantly lower energy bills.
And now, it’s not only about appeasing residents. The UK Government’s Energy Act 2011 means that any property which fails to achieve an EPC rating of E by 2018 cannot be rented, with the Scottish Government expected to announce similar regulations shortly.
Envision for commercial properties
Universities, colleges, airports, hospitals, cinemas, office blocks, police stations and shopping centres have all benefitted from IRT’s infrared thermal imaging and quantified reports. Envision allows building owners to identify the best methods to deliver value enhancement across their portfolio and ensure their buildings are equipped for the future.
Not only are commercial buildings also subject to the aforementioned Energy Act 2011, but increasing awareness of energy efficiency issues has intensified the pressure to be seen to be taking action.
The NHS, for instance, has identified carbon reduction as a major area of priority. That’s why IRT recently surveyed 20 buildings as part of a project for NHS Lanarkshire, identifying a potential carbon reduction of 37,425kg per year that resulted in the closure of two poorly performing buildings.
Not only do commercial buildings contribute 17% of the UK’s emissions, the rate of growth in energy consumption in the last 25 years has been almost three times greater than in the domestic sector. Furthermore, more than 40 per cent of commercial buildings in the UK are in danger of failing to comply with increasingly stringent government energy standards.
As such, innovation for energy efficiency was perhaps needed for this sector more than any other. Thermographic surveys with Envision enable building owners to have their property/property stock assessed in a quick and non-destructive way in order to reduce carbon footprints and, vitally, ensure compliance with legislation.
Recent projects have included 88 buildings on a university campus and 90 schools for a local authority. In both cases the information was handed to facilities management to address the issues identified.
Envision has revolutionised building surveying at a time when the industry needed it the most.
Even at this relatively early stage, interest in the patented software is global, with buildings from as far afield as Australia and Dubai having been assessed as word has spread.
For the commercial sector, if concerns revolve around making buildings work harder for your business while complying with government legislation, then Envision is for you.
For the domestic sector, if it’s about creating the most cost effective, comfortable homes for yourself or residents, again, the only answer is Envision.
For both, if saving money is key, all roads, unanimously, point to Envision.
Simply put, the software is the future of building surveying and an absolute necessity for planning with confidence.