OWLS Sitting Comfortably on Solihull Flats

A group of Solihull residents are set to reduce their energy bills by 85 per cent, whilst dramatically cutting carbon emissions, thanks to an exciting project led by Encraft. The £625,000 Innovate UK funded trial involved upgrading a block of six flats to EnerPHit standard by way of an innovative Off-site Wrap-around Large Scale (OWLS) retrofit. The residents remained in situ throughout the work, so minimising disruption to their lives, before they were left to enjoy all of the benefits associated with Passivhaus. Our partners in the project included Beattie Passive, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, Solihull Community Housing and Coventry University.

The university provided a detailed analysis of the residents’ energy usage before the retrofit took place, whilst Beattie Passive assembled their TCosy timber frame offsite. The TCosy is injected with insulation and provides a building with a highly efficient, air-tight outer layer, with no thermal bridges. When fitted, it gave the flats a completely new external façade and roof. They were also supplied with high performance windows and doors, as well as a mechanical heat recovery ventilation system.

Encraft developed the project, led the team and were the Passivhaus consultants. We also carried out energy modelling before and after the retrofit; air-tightness inspections; and managed the project.

OWLS is an exciting, new, ‘whole building’ approach to large scale retrofit and can regenerate existing housing stock to a near zero carbon standard. The benefits provided by these energy upgrades are numerous and include lower energy usage, cheaper bills, healthier living conditions and dramatic reductions in carbon emissions. The OWLS retrofit solution also provides training and labour opportunities to the same local communities whose living conditions it does so much to improve.

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