School of Architecture

  • Code Level 4 Homes in Bicester - Phase 1

    Domestic-in use building performance evaluation

    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 will help 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.

    • Process

      The post-construction and initial occupation study will be carried out over a period of 4 months. This includes 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


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

      Project team

      Project details

      Duration: 2012 - 2013

      Funded by:
      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 Chandiwala, S. (2009) Achieving low carbon buildings using Code for Sustainable Homes in the UK. International Journal of Low-Carbon Technologies (4), pp.187-196