Media Release: Innovative app could help social landlords tackle fuel poverty

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AN innovative new app for social landlords and housebuilders, developed by Building Research Establishment (BRE) in partnership with Cruden, has officially been launched by Deputy First Minister, John Swinney MSP.

Mr Swinney visited the award winning BRE Innovation Park at Ravenscraig to hear how the new RetrofitLab App will allow housing associations, social landlords and housebuilders to easily calculate the benefits of refurbishing their existing properties, how much the work will cost, and how much can be saved in maintenance and running costs.

Ultimately, the app is expected to result in more energy efficient homes, reducing fuel poverty and carbon emissions and improving the health of tenants.

The data incorporated within the app is the most up to date on the marketplace and follows months of monitoring at the ‘Refurbished House’ on the BRE Innovation Park in Ravenscraig.

Delivered by BRE Scotland, Edinburgh Napier University and Historic Scotland and constructed by Cruden Buildings and Renewals, the home represents a recreation of the ‘four in a block’ model of which there are over 250,000 in Scotland and three million of a similar design in England.

The app presents technical information in a user-friendly way, and, importantly, helps the user make maximum benefits to properties with the minimum disruption to the resident.

Dr David Kelly, group director, BRE Innovation Park Networks, noted: “At BRE, we combine science and technology with innovation and entrepreneurship to develop and share solutions for existing and future buildings not only in Scotland but across the UK, Europe and around the world.

“This project is a prime example of BRE’s overriding objective to generate new knowledge through research and we are delighted that, following prolonged testing and monitoring at the Refurbished House, a range of innovative retrofit solutions for some of the country’s most energy inefficient homes have been identified.”

BRE Scotland director, Rufus Logan, added” “As a direct result of our research, we have been able to develop the BRE RetrofitLab App which is now available for free download.

“We believe this will be of particular interest to those operating within the housing sector as it allows energy efficiency options to be compared quickly and effectively, and just as importantly, it details the associated cost implications of each.”

Allan Callaghan, managing director of Cruden Building and Renewals, said: “The RetrofitLab App has wide-ranging social, health, environmental and energy saving benefits.

“Energy-inefficient housing and fuel poverty are big issues in Scotland and are linked to poor physical and mental health.

“The RetrofitLab App will help tackle this problem by making it easy for social landlords to see the benefits of refurbishing their poorly-performing housing within just a couple of minutes.

“Cruden has invested heavily in this project, and we are now working with a like-minded client with difficult to improve housing stock challenges who would work with us on a pilot project. We are in advanced discussions with a large housing association to take this forward.

“We expect the app to be a success because the solutions it offers are both practically and commercially realistic. We’re also looking at developing the app for use on different types of homes such as flats, terraced, semi-detached and detached properties.”

Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, said: “I welcome the launch of the new RetrofitLab App which will help housing associations, social landlords and house builders to easily calculate the benefits of refurbishing their existing properties.

“Ultimately, this should encourage the creation of more energy efficient homes and benefit tenants living in the properties; for example, by reducing their fuel and energy costs, improving the quality of their home and having a positive effect on their health and wellbeing.

“The Scottish Government supports innovation across the construction sector, ensuring the best environment for businesses and academia to interact, taking forward innovative ambitious projects of excellence that have the potential to bring millions more to the economy.”

The BRE RetrofitLab app is now available for free download on Apple iPads.

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