Will today’s energy efficient homes become ‘too hot to handle’? Sheffield climate change research aims to find out

Sheffield Climate Research (Demo)

A Sheffield housing company is helping a doctorate research project to determine the impact of climate change on the type of homes being built today.

The three-year study is being run by Sheffield University in collaboration with Sheffield Hallam University, and Sheffield Housing Company (SHC), one of the largest housing developers in the city.

PhD student, Hayfa Barakat will be working on the Future Climate and Change in Liveability of a City’s Housing Environment initiative. This is part of the White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership’s Economic & Science Research Council Collaborative Awards.

Her work, which begins in September, could identify ways in which the design, construction, flexibility and facilities in our homes could be changed to reduce the carbon footprint and encourage greener living.

Barakat is setting out to model the likely temperature and humidity changes and then assess the impact this could have on the internal living environment of homes, to see whether a comfortable environment would be maintained.

She’ll be working under the guidance of Dr Chengzhi Peng, senior lecturer at Sheffield University’s School of Architecture, and Professor Edward Ferrari, from the Centre for Regional Economic & Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University.

The research could challenge some current approaches, such as the airtightness and insulation of modern homes.

While such measures reduce energy usage and the carbon footprint today, in 50 years’ time these homes could become uncomfortably hot, causing people to use fans or fit air-conditioning — increasing carbon usage and bills.

John Clephan, project director with SHC, will also be part of the supervisory team.

“The homes we live in are a key factor in our quality of life,” he said. “If a home stands for 150 years or more, it will be a big part of the lives of many generations. Working with Sheffield’s universities, this is a great opportunity to learn more about how adaptable our homes can be to environmental changes in the future.

“Providing support for research into one of the most important issues of our time could help leave a valuable legacy well beyond the homes we build.  This project could influence the way we design, build and live in homes for generations to come.”

SHC is Sheffield City Council’s joint venture development company, established with private sector construction partner Keepmoat Homes and Great Places Housing Group.

Dr. Peng added: “In order to bid for the funding for this research project we had to have an industry partner and SHC very kindly agreed to fulfil this role. Together we will examine the impact the housing stock has on the ecology and environment of Sheffield and look to see whether there are ways of reducing the detrimental effects.”

Before she successfully applied to carry out the research as part of her PhD studies, Barakat gained a BSc (Hons) in Architecture Design & Technology and an MSc in Project Management in Construction at the University of Salford.


Main Image: (Left to right) Hayfa Barakat, John Clephan and Dr Chengzhi Peng at Sheffield Housing Company’s Norfolk Park development.


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