Code Level 4 Homes in Bicester - Phase 1

Principal Investigator(s): Professor Rajat Gupta


Funded by: Innovate UK

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Category: Domestic-in use building performance evaluation

Objective: Understanding the interaction between passive design and low carbon technologies in the in-use performance of a low carbon affordable housing.

On many occasions, urban design requirements cannot be easily rationalised with buildings offering higher levels of sustainability. Planners and other property professional have already shown particular interest in this scheme given its existing constraints as a brownfield site, and the objectives in targeting energy efficiency working well with attractive buildings. The increasing levels of airtightness required for the delivery of low carbon homes has raised issues concerning the performance of these new homes in relation to air quality, humidity levels and user well-being/comfort. The use of MVHR in housing is a relatively new phenomenon in the UK. It has yet to be fully tested and understood, particularly in relation to modern methods of construction, and when used in conjunction with other passive low energy measures such as solar gain and natural ventilation strategies.

This study helped to unpick the relationships between these systems, and provide not only lessons for the development of low-carbon housing, but also valuable learning which can be translated across other construction types.


Rajat Gupta

Professor Rajat Gupta

Professor of Sustainable Architecture and Climate Change, Director of OISD and LCB Group

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The post-construction and initial occupation study was carried out over a period of 4 months. This included the physical tests, inspections and information review along side occupant surveys.

  • Design and construction audit - Review of specification, procedures etc., SAP review, ‘as designed’ against ‘as built’ comparison, design team interviews, report
  • Construction stage - Occupancy agreements and ethics agreement
  • Post construction stage and early occupancy - air permeability tests, infra-red thermographic tests, in-situ u-value measurement, smoke based air leakage tests, evaluation of handover and user guide, commissioning processes review, measurement of performance and energy se of MVHR systems as detailed on the costings/timeline. Review of systems design and implementation.
  • Analysis - Interviews, walkthroughs separately with both occupants and design team, photographic survey, occupant satisfaction questionnaire input and analysis, results
Thermal image of homes in Bicester


The results of this project aimed to facilitate in-depth understanding on the performance of very low energy homes by the entire project team. The results were used to inform current and future developments by Sanctuary Group which has over 70,000 properties under management in England and Scotland.

Project details

Funded by:

  • Innovate UK (formally known as Technology Strategy Board)

Project Partners:
  • Sanctuary Green Technologies
  • David J Stewart Associates
  • Kate Mansfield Eco
  • Mansell Construction
  • Faithful and Gould
  • Cherwell District Council


  • Total project value: £48,690
  • Income to OBU: £30,825


  • Gupta, R. and Kapsali, M. (2016) Evaluating the ‘as-built’ performance of an eco-housing development in the UK, Building Services Engineering Research & Technology, 37 (2), 220-252
  • Gupta, R, and Cherian, R, (2013) Tackling the performance gap between design intent and actual outcomes of new low/zero carbon housing, Peer-reviewed paper, European Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ECEEE) 2013 Summer study proceedings, Côte d'Azur, France, 3-7 June, 2013. Pages 1315-1328
  • Kapsali, M, and Gupta, R (2015) Low-zero energy social housing in UK a case of under-performance or unintended consequences, Peer-reviewed paper, European Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ECEEE) 2015 Summer study proceedings, Côte d'Azur, France, 1-6 June, 2015. Pages 1033-1046