Space Technology Finds ‘Leaky’ Homes to Help Cut Emissions

A PIONEERING SPACE TECHNOLOGY has been deployed for the first time in the UK over Leeds, to make homes healthier, greener, and cheaper to live in.

Earlier this spring, a specially equipped plane mounted with a sophisticated thermal imaging camera flew over Leeds. The flight captured data revealing insights into how much heat was being lost from the buildings below.

It was part of a pilot to demonstrate a new technology that could be used to reduce the environmental impact of housing by making homes more energy efficient.

Around a quarter of Leed’s carbon footprint comes from the energy used to heat and power residential buildings. Poorly insulated roofs, walls, and windows are common ways that properties lose heat.

Aerial Thermal Imaging

The new aerial thermal imaging technique, developed by Satellite Vu, can help identify the ‘leakiest’ buildings in a large area with ease. It promises to collect and analyse heat loss data at an unprecedented level of detail and scale. Eventually, the technique will utilise cameras looking down on streets from satellites orbiting approximately 500km above Earth.

The test was funded by the net zero charity MCS Charitable Foundation and was carried out in partnership with Leeds City Council.

Dr Richard Hauxwell-Baldwin, Research and Campaigns Manager at MCS Charitable Foundation, said: “With 29 million homes in the UK urgently needing upgrades to be fit for the future, we need detailed data on building conditions on a massive scale. This proof of concept could provide that data for the first time and will be game-changing for investment in whole-street and whole-area retrofitting programmes.”

Information gathered using the new technology can be used by local authorities to target and prioritise funding for homes most in need of upgrades. Data collected from the Leeds pilot will be used to inform the work the council is undertaking as part of the ‘Net Zero Homes Plan’ it unveiled earlier this year.

Leeds council will also use the data to help secure more funding for retrofit projects, such as the ‘Holbeck Group Repair’ scheme installing around 300 home upgrades including new roofs and external wall insulation that combined to cut energy use by 25-30%.

Leeds Councillor, Helen Hayden, said: “This is an innovative project that could transform our understanding of building heat loss at the city level, potentially unlocking additional investment in energy efficiency measures that cut energy bills and help us tackle climate change.”


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