A report on BRE's super sustainable homes reveals a shortage of people able to integrate green technologies

Designers and contractors will need to develop new skills if they are to better deliver energy-efficient dwellings, according to the BRE.

A report on the delivery of four eco-homes at BRE’s Innovation Park, revealed a shortage of people who knew how to specify and integrate sustainable technologies.

Innovation Park

In a technical paper the BRE said that housebuilders “needed to understand the importance of building to specification, particularly with regard to airtightness and ventilation systems.”

The study revealed a shortage of people who understood low and zero-carbon technologies and in particular how to connect and maintain them.

The construction of the Ecohouse by Hanson revealed an issue with the integration of the solar water panels and the ground source heat pump, while integrating the solar water panels with the gas boiler was the main issue at the Sigma Home constructed by Stewart Milne Group.

The report concluded the shortage of site-based skills could be eased by integrating the systems offsite and bringing them in fully or partly prefabricated.

Other findings in the paper, which deals with energy sources, overheating and ventilation, revealed that gas boilers could be used in designs for Code level 1 to 5.

Christopher Gaze, associate director at BRE, said: “If you put in a low NOx boiler it does very well on pollution credits. If you put in a ground or air source heat pump or any other type of boiler you lose those credits”.

Gaze also said that specifiers need to get to grips, the list of new technologies that have been evaluated for inclusion in SAP assessments under Appendix Q.

Gaze said: “Designers need to select systems carefully as their efficiencies can vary. They also need to make sure that systems are installed as specified to make sure they deliver the predicted efficiencies”.

The Information Paper ‘Lessons learnt about energy sources, overheating and ventilation’ will be available on the 8 September. It will be followed by two further papers, one detailing water use, harvesting, recycling and drainage; and another on architecture, construction and sourcing.