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Energy Transition North America 2021

RGU leads European North Sea partnership to help homeowners improve energy efficiency

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A new digital service to help homeowners in the UK and Europe improve the energy performance of their homes is being created as part of a joint €6.7M “Stronghouse” project between Robert Gordon University and 20 European partners.

The Stronghouse APP is a digital one stop-shop where owners can carry out a self-assessment to find out more about the energy efficiency of their homes and to receive guidance, support and information on available grants to renovate their homes.

The new platform also offers advice on European Energy Performance Certificates (EPC), tips on energy efficiency and solutions to help homeowners invest in energy efficiency.  

The new app is being piloted as part of an 18-month project to help homeowners carry out energy renovation improvements even if their homes don’t have a valid EPC.  By simply choosing the house type amongst the most common building types in the UK, homeowners are given suggestions that can be carried out by an energy consultant.  The tool also offers long term step-by-step retrofit plans to help homeowners improve their energy efficiency using cutting edge technologies, that are necessary to decarbonise the building stock by 2050. 

Professor David Gray, project lead at RGU, said: “Energy renovation by individual homeowners is lagging. The measures currently available are fragmented and do not meet the needs and concerns of property owners. Stronghouse wants to redesign the system to gain a better understanding of the factors that motivate homeowners. Whilst doing so, we will help them invest and reduce the environmental footprint of their homes and develop innovative digital tools to help them do this.

“The energy used by buildings has been a key research theme for The Scotts School of Architecture and Built Environment for many years, and this project is another example of collaboration with the School of Creative and Cultural Business.  Stronghouse is a brilliant example of the positive effects of research undertaken with partners from across Europe, from both the public and private sectors. The immediate usefulness of this project to home owners is really clear and will help to improve issues of fuel poverty.”

Dr Amar Bennadji from The Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and member of the Stronghouse Project said: “We want to simplify the process for homeowners to help them improve their home energy efficiency. The new Stronghouse APP provides a platform where homeowners can ask a number of simple questions about their homes and find information to help them improve their energy efficiency.

As part of the energy transition, we need to adopt sustainable solutions and accelerate energy renovation in our neighbourhoods. RGU is working closely with partners as part of the Stronghouse group to create sustainable housing in communities.”

With an innovative focus, the aim of the Stronghouse Group is to reduce the carbon footprint of some 22,000 homes in the North Sea Region while generating an estimated 100 million euro in investments.  A recent Stronghouse report shows that significant progress has been made with a reduction of 7.4kton CO2 emissions and 4872 homes renovated since the group formed in 2020.  

More locally and as part of a two-year Knowledge Transfer Partnership, RGU is working closely with Aberdeen based Kishorn Insulations Ltd to support the Stronghouse Project.  Kishorn has a strong track record and recently joined the team to provide specific technical expertise to improve the energy renovation in older, more traditional and “hard-to-treat” buildings. The aim of the KTP is to assess the development of new processes, materials and their lifecycle. It is also assessing how insulation materials can be incorporated into older buildings to improve their energy performance.

Projects like these demonstrate RGU’s strengths in demand-led research which contribute to economic development and also the university’s commitment to support Scottish Government’s net zero ambitions.  Around 40% of the UK’s energy consumption and carbon emissions arise from the way buildings are lit, heated and used so improving the energy efficiency of buildings is a major factor in meeting the government’s target of net zero emissions by 2050.

Robert Gordon University formed a knowledge partnership with the international Stronghouse Project in 2009. The group now includes 16 partners and 7 sub-partners from 6 countries in the North Sea Region. These include local and regional authorities, knowledge institutes, SMEs, business support and public service providers who all work together to share knowledge and expertise within the collaboration.     RGU Research Fellow, Mohammed Seddiki is leading the software development of the Stronghouse APP.

NB: Image from left to right includes:   Mike Bauermeister, Kishorn Insulations, Jamal Alabid, RGU, Amar Bennadji, RGU, Richard Laing, RGU, Mohammed Seddiki, Research Fellow RGU, Jamal Alabid, RGU, Paddy Leighton, Kynene Insulation

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