In 1998 BRE and partners created the highly innovative Integer House. Designed to give people a glimpse of what future homes might be like, thousands of professionals from around the world came to see it and were inspired to design and build in a better way.
It had one of the first green roofs, an early photovoltaic array, a greywater recycling system, and a ground source heat pump and prototype intelligent electronics – new to market technologies that are more commonplace today.
The house has undergone an extensive retrofit. Now called The Smart Home, it tackles some of our key built environment challenges: the need for our existing homes to be more energy efficient, to adapt to the effects of climate change and to address the needs of the ageing population.
House building resources
Through a joint BRE and British Gas project, it has been re-equipped with a host of ultra energy-efficient features and functions, making it super fit for the future. Using cutting-edge technology, design and building techniques, the innovative retrofit has made the house 50% more energy efficient and halved its carbon emissions, upgrading it from an E to an A/B EPC rating.
An intelligent, whole house living system with occupation sensors for a range of purposes controls the heating, lighting, ventilation, water and security. The latest air source heat pump technology has been integrated to provide heating via app-enabled advanced controls, and improvements have been made to the solar thermal water heating and air tightness.
The house has a new-to-market solar thermal system, and an integrated PV array has been installed into the conservatory glazing to generate most of the home’s energy requirements and shade clear glass against excess heat. Innovative 3 mm thick insulating plaster has been applied finished in heat-reflective paint to improve thermal performance, whilst paint with light-reflective particles on the internal walls dramatically increases brightness and reduces lighting needs. To counteract upper floor overheating, Phase Change Material (PCM) has been incorporated into the upper floor walls. Ducted skirting, reclaimed timber floors and an FSC certified kitchen have been fitted, and doors and windows have been replaced with the latest uPVC double glazing incorporating recycled uPVC. The very latest Velux windows have been installed, and the front door showcases new generation electronic locking, including a car style remote key.
Materials & Technologies
Energain Phase Change Material
When the room temperature rises above 22°c, the polymer/wax compound in the wall panel melts to absorb the heat, slowing temperature rise by up to 7°c. The wax solidifies when the room temperature falls to 18°c and the stored heat is then released back into the room. www.energain.co.uk
Ecodan harvests energy from outdoor air and converts it to heat for heating and hot water, even in temperatures as low as -20°c. For every 1kW of electricity the system uses, the house benefits form 3kW of heating. http://domesticheating.mitsubishielectric.co.uk/about_ecodan
Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV)
The original sloping glazing has been replaced with transparent BIPV glazing panels that can produce electricity from light coming from either side, making them a flexible option in terms of orientation. www.polysolar.co.uk/technology.php
This solar-thermal collector uses a honeycomb layer of transparent insulation made from polymer that allows sunlight to pass into the collector and heat the absorber surface. It also creates an air buffer to reduce heat loss during convection. www.tigisolar.com
The triple-glazed roof light, which includes a rain sensor, can be programmed to automatically open and close. This means it can be used to help regulate indoor temperatures to support the Energain Phase Change Material solution. www.velux.co.uk
The halogen lights used in the original Integer House have been replaced by more energy-efficient LED (light emitting diode) lamps. Overall LEDs also use less power and last longer than other lighting solutions. These LEDs are part of the automated system. www.osram.com
The home automation system comprises intelligent, app-enabled heating controls and lighting sensors that have daylight and motion detection to regulate lighting levels. It uses the global KNX standard so different appliances, devices and systems can communicate with each other. www.buildingtechnologies.siemens.com
Multirock (Flexi) Insulation
Two layers of insulation have been fitted in the kitchen and living area ceiling, to achieve a U-value of just 0.19 W/m2K. It creates a warm comfortable space, while also reducing noise levels up to 40 decibels. www.rockwool.co.uk/products
A range of highly reflective, low VOC (volatile organic compounds) water-based paints are used throughout to improve thermal efficiency, indoor air quality and finish. The Ecosure Matt product, for example, has no added solvents and has 35% less embodied carbon than other paints. www.duluxdecoratorcentre.co.uk
Ian Williams Ltd
Ian Williams is one of the UK’s largest property services companies, at the forefront of looking after the built environment with particular expertise in the social housing, education and commercial sectors. www.ianwilliams.co.uk
Nationwide Windows are manufacturers and installers of high performance windows and doors particularly in the social housing and new build sectors. www.nationwidewindows.co.uk/
Kawneer – Stick Curtain walling
This dry-jointed system is suited to vertical, sloped and facetted applications. Removes reliance upon on-site sealing and ensures excellent weathering performance. www.kawneer.com
Eurocell windows and doors offer a high level of energy efficiency, and incorporate a high level of recycled content. They are BRE Green Guide A rated for environmental performance, have a whole window U-value of up to 1.3W/m2K and have a BFRC Window Energy Rating of A. www.eurocell.co.uk
Airtightness testing and U-value testing
|Air Tightness Result|
|11.00 m3/(h.m2) at 50Pa|
|element value.||U value W/m2K|
|floor||0.67 to 0.81|
Lead Contractor: British Gas