Hull launches low-carbon housing pilot project

Hull City Council and the University of Hull have teamed up to develop a pilot project which could help influence the future of low-carbon housing.
The skyline over Kingston-upon-Hull.
Hull. The city’s university and council have teamed up to develop a low-carbon heating pilot project. Credit: John Bannon/Creative Commons

Hull City Council and the University of Hull have teamed up to develop a pilot project which could help influence the future of low-carbon housing.

Energy and sustainability experts from the university will work alongside the council to develop a project to show the potential of new technology designed to decarbonise the heating of homes.

The project will see the council hand one of its residential homes over to the university to try out its low-carbon heating technology. For a year, the home will be monitored for its heating and energy use to help analyse the effectiveness of the technology.

If the pilot project proves successful, it is hoped that the technology could be commercialised and rolled out to homes across Hull and further afield.

Prof. Xudong Zhao from the University of Hull’s Energy & Environment Institute, said: “This project will be the first time this technology, which we hope will become an exemplar for the decarbonisation of our homes, will be demonstrated at full scale.

“Addressing the issue of decarbonising heating in the home is urgent to meet the UK target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, and Hull City Council’s ambitions to reach those same targets by 2030.

“This new project, working alongside Hull City Council, will provide us with a glimpse into the future of low-carbon, sustainable housing. It has the potential to be truly ground-breaking.”

Around 40% of the UK’s carbon footprint comes from the built environment, of which domestic heating contributes around 26%.

While the Committee on Climate Change sees greater take-up of low-carbon heating systems such as heat pumps as vital to the UK’s decarbonisation, these devices currently make up less than 2% of the UK’s overall heating market and perform less well in the UK’s cold winters.

The project will therefore see the house fitted out with combined ventilation and air source heat pump technology developed by the University of Hull’s Centre for Sustainable Energy Technology.

The system uses a unique mixture of indoor and outdoor air, reducing the amount of heat which is usually lost in a house through ventilation and making the technology more durable during the cold winter months.

Prof. Daniel Parsons, director of the Energy and Environment Institute, said that early indications show the technology can significantly reduce carbon emissions compared to existing gas boilers.

Prof. Parsons added: “We need to test how to best deploy and operate this new technology, which has the potential to decarbonise our residential housing stock across the country, whilst simultaneously addressing fuel poverty through a reduction in heating costs.”

Cllr Daren Hale, deputy leader of Hull City Council, said the pilot project puts Hull at the forefront of the UK’s move to low-carbon heating.

“Hull City Council has set the ambitious and achievable target to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2030,” Cllr Hale said. “If we are to reach that goal, projects such as this one from the university alongside the council will be vital.

“These systems currently make up a fraction of the overall heating market in the UK, but this partnership between the council and the university could change that, which would be huge for the country’s zero carbon goals.

“It demonstrates that the council is working hard alongside its major partner organisations to tackle climate change.”

The new project was announced at this week’s 2020 Waterline Summit, which aims to position the Humber at the vanguard of the global transition to a zero-carbon economy.

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