Housing Evaluation and Performance Studies (HEAPS)


What is it?
A methodology comprising a combination of hard and soft techniques which has been used to evaluate one demonstration home against the Code for Sustainable Homes (q.v.) level standards. Areas monitored were heat loss, thermal comfort, indoor air quality (IAQ), energy and water consumption, CO2 emissions, user interfaces and the effectiveness of the design from a user's perspective. All external windows and doors were monitored to establish ventilation patterns. A technical audit of construction details and equipment was carried out. Importantly, the user induction process was also evaluated and improved.

Useful where?
Pre-testing prototype housing prior to mass production to improve design.

What else does it do?
Gives the developer the opportunity to understand their product and better inform future projects based on actual outcomes. Helps developers to understand whether or not their user induction process is effective which can have a major effect on user understanding of the home.

Related activities
Interviews and meetings with architect, developer, users, thermal imaging and user videos to illustrate key problem areas, thermal comfort survey.

In what sectors?

The combination of methods allows for a particularly intensive investigation of performance against design intentions.

Development status

Who developed it?
The Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development and Architecture (OISDA) who were commissioned by the Stewart Milne Group.

Stage of development
2007 and has only been used for one project but is being developed further with major housing developers.

Examples of its use
It was developed to evaluate the Stewart Milne Group's Sigma Home at the BRE's Innovation Park in Watford which was designed to meet CSH level 5.

Further development happening?
Under continuous development with OISDA, which specialises in post-occupancy feedback.

Development contacts
Fionn Stevenson, Oxford Brookes University

Measured against CSH levels
Litres of water per person
CO2 ppm

How it works

Brief description
It assessed both occupant response and building performance. Occupant responses were recorded using video monitoring, interviews, log sheets and thermal comfort surveys. Physical data measured were temperature, humidity, IAQ, energy, gas and water consumption and heat loss through the building fabric. A technical audit of construction details through examination of drawings and equipment specifications was carried out. Thermal imaging was used to diagnose failure points in conjunction with fabric heat loss testing. All windows and external door openings were monitored. The architect and developer were also interviewed to establish design intentions against which performance could be measured.

Is there software?
Standard Excel package used to analyse monitoring and comfort surveys, software for monitoring equipment.

How long does it take?
The study package can be broken down into different sets of evaluative measurements depending on the project requirements and the timing will depend on which measures are used. The more comprehensive the package, the more time it takes. The basic package is about one man-month or less providing good data is available. The comprehensive package takes between two to three man months over a year, depending on the sample sizes.

Can I do it myself?

Can someone else do it for me?
Yes. Contact Fionn Stevenson.

Stewart Milne Group (2009), The future of low energy, carbon neutral homes, Stewart Milne Group

Stevenson F. and Rijal H.B. (2008), The Sigma Home: towards an authentic evaluation of a prototype building, Proceedings of the Passive and Low Energy Architecture 2008 Conference, Dublin, 22-24 October. ISBN: 78-1-905254-34-7

Is the technique in the public domain?
Technique partially described in PLEA Conference paper (See links and Pdfs)

Are the methods open to inspection with technical support papers?
Partially. See links.

Contact Fionn Stevenson

Are the results in the public domain?
Via conference paper (See links and Pdfs).

Are there stable benchmarks?
Uses PassivHaus and CSH benchmarks

Organisations offering
The Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development : Architecture Unit at Oxford Brookes University,
Contact name: Fionn Stevenson