The UK building industry accounts for 47% of total UK CO2 emissions with 80% of this being operational energy. Contributing to this are poorly performing buildings, especially those built pre-building energy regulations. Retrofit is a logical solution which would help reduce the UK’s operational energy use, but retrofit uptake is still very low. The aim of this research is to develop an automated system which provides retrofit solutions for non-domestic buildings. This would push the boundary of how fast retrofit can be designed and therefore installed. As the process of refurbishment is made easier it would help to encourage a greater uptake.

A key aim of the project is to embed a life-cycle assessment (LCA) within the automation. Currently, the number of domestic retrofit LCA’s within research far outweighs non-domestic, despite commercial buildings accounting for 30% of global operational emissions. Initial research within this project should help add new information to this knowledge gap. Also, many large commercial buildings are being demolished due to the justification that better operational energy emissions can be achieved through rebuild. However, replacing a structural frame unnecessarily would require considerable emissions showing the importance of incorporating embodied carbon calculations into the design decision making process.

This research will generate novel outputs on automation techniques for retrofit, aiming to create a tool that balances operational savings with embodied costs, allowing for the best whole life carbon option to be chosen.

PhD Candidate: Danielle Abbey

Supervisory Team: Danielle Densley Tingley, Hadi Arbabi, Wil O. C. Ward

Project Status: Ongoing

Project Start Date: 29th September 2021

Keywords: non-domestic retrofit, embodied carbon, automation, life-cycle assessment

Funding Scheme: EPSRC