Work is set to start on a world-leading home energy research centre at the University of Salford.

The £16 million state-of-the-art project will be at the cutting edge of investigation into the future of housing, including off-site construction, smart homes and domestic energy use.

Energy House 2.0 will build on the work already done at Salford to enable key changes to be made in the UK’s housing stock aimed at saving energy.

The drive to make housing more energy efficient will be a key part of trying to reduce global CO2 emissions to acceptable limits in the coming years.

Energy House 2.0 will contain two environmental chambers that can achieve temperatures of between -20C and 40C and simulate wind, rain, snow and solar light.  

The research centre will target a global market, with environmental conditions experienced by 95% of the world’s population able to be replicated in the facility.

“Once work is complete our facilities will be globally significant,” said director of Energy House Laboratories, Professor Will Swan.

“We have undertaken significant work in the UK over the last 10 years, but these new developments give us major opportunities to work with international partners on major global challenges.

“This facility for whole buildings testing and research will further the development of energy efficient technologies for the built environment.

“From a UK perspective we are very much driven by the Industrial Strategy and will be working with partners from industry to support the delivery of a low carbon built environment.” 

Richard Meftah Photographic

The likely scope of technologies will be related to building materials, smart control systems and meters, energy modelling and measurement.  

The scheme secured planning permission in May 2018 and work is due to start at the beginning of next year, with the new facility coming on stream in the spring of 2021.

Business leaders and politicians have welcomed the investment which will give Greater Manchester the world’s first all-weather research centre for whole building performance capable of cutting test times for new products “from years to a matter of weeks.”

Dr Richard Fitton, technical research lead for Energy House Laboratories, said: “The development of Energy House 2.0 has required considerable support from the University, industry and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority. The team are grateful for the interest and support the project has generated.”

The University has concluded the first stage procurement of a contractor to continue the design of the Energy House 2.0 facility. Bowmer & Kirkland have been successful in securing the project and will now set about completing the design, work package procurement and the construction of the facility. 

Energy House 2.0 is a successor to the University’s hugely successful Energy House, which opened in 2011 and has provided the science behind technological change and a raft of initiatives to save on energy bills particularly for Britain’s five million ‘fuel-poor’ households. 

The existing facility – a Victorian terraced house inside an environmental chamber – is one of the most famous laboratories in the UK, and has regularly featured on TV and in the media.

The new blueprint is a much a larger, more flexible facility, where all sorts of buildings can be constructed, tested and then demolished. 

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said Energy House 2.0 would pave the way for net zero carbon homes and workplaces. Development of the new facility is timely given the UK’s Industrial Strategy on ‘clean growth’. It also supports Greater Manchester’s plans to position itself as a world-leading green business and clean tech hub.

“We’re determined to push boundaries to make Greater Manchester one of the greenest city regions in Europe,” he said.

“Energy House 2.0 at the University of Salford will be a significant driver towards truly net zero carbon homes and workplaces, not just here in Greater Manchester, but across the UK.”

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