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A UK college is testing new low-carbon applied sciences that might minimize heating payments

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Kenny Williamson | Moment | Getty Images

A local authority in the UK is to provide university researchers with a home to test low carbon technologies. The aim of the collaboration is to collect potentially valuable data that provides information on how buildings will be designed in the coming years.

The partnership between Hull City Council and the University of Hull in North East England will focus on the use of "combined ventilation and air source heat pump technology".

According to the Energy Saving Trust, an air source heat pump "absorbs heat from … outside air" to provide households with heat and hot water. Developed by the Hull team, the system "uses a unique mix of indoor and outdoor air" and helps reduce the heat a "typical house" would lose through ventilation.

Information on heating and energy consumption in the house is collected over the course of a year. The project team analyzes the affordability and effectiveness of the technology.

"Early signs suggest the technology can significantly reduce CO2 emissions compared to existing gas boilers," said Daniel Parsons, director of the Institute of Energy and Environment at the University of Hull, in a statement released earlier this week .

"We need to test how best to use and operate this new technology that has the potential to decarbonize our housing stock across the country while tackling fuel poverty by reducing heating bills," he added.

New houses, new solutions

In recent years, many new ideas related to the energy consumption and efficiency of residential properties have been developed.

Digitally connected technologies give consumers insights into energy consumption and the money they are spending, for example, while the physical structure of buildings changes too.

Examples of the latter are technologies developed by companies like Q-Bot. The London-based company uses, among other things, robots that can go under floorboards, perform 3D scans and then spray "insulation layers" on the underside.

Indeed, changes to existing buildings, including full retrofits, could play an increasingly important role in the years to come.

This applies in addition to the development of brand new houses that integrate sustainable, digitally networked functions right from the start.

North of Hull in the city of York, the authorities are also looking to the future and plan to develop 600 new homes as part of the Housing Delivery Program.

The city council said it was "committed to innovative design principles" and called it the "largest zero-carbon house building program in the country".

In a statement released along with a project update on Wednesday, Councilor Denise Craghill said the Housing Delivery Program and Design Manual "put health and wellbeing and climate change at the fore".

"Goals include minimizing our impact on the environment, tackling loneliness and isolation, reducing fuel poverty, increasing biodiversity and planting trees, and designing our new homes and neighborhoods next to existing communities," said Craghill , Executive Member for Housing and Safer Communities, York City Council added.

The York program spans a number of community locations across the city and includes homes that are "certified passive and net zero carbon in use".

In view of the increasing concern for sustainability and the environment, the passive house or passive house concept is becoming more and more influential.

According to the Passive House Institute, the concept is based on five principles: superior windows; airtight construction; Ventilation with heat recovery; Quality insulation; and thermal bridge-free design. In order to be certified as a passive house, a building must meet a number of detailed, strict criteria.

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Katherine Clark