Project LEMUR (Local energy mapping for urban retrofit)

Working with several partners, Bioregional won funding from Innovate UK to develop a solution to the challenges of tackling urban retrofit in the UK.

The challenge

In the UK, we urgently need to make our homes more energy efficient. Yet retrofitting homes in towns and cities has proved difficult due to a lack of adequate, up to date information about which homes could benefit most from particular retrofit measures. Lack of incentives and awareness of the benefits for homeowners, on top of high installation costs, compound the problem.

Bioregional, Oxford Brookes University, Cherwell District Council and Future Cities Catapult developed LEMUR to explore how to overcome the challenges to:

  • conduct large-scale retrofitting of carbon reduction measures in homes;
  • facilitate warmer, healthier homes and reduce fuel poverty;
  • support thriving local economies and nurture community groups.

The solution

The project partners brought together two existing data-driven models – Oxford Brookes University’s Geographic Information System based DECoRuM model and Bioregional’s Community Energy Manager – into an innovative new service called LEMUR (Local energy mapping for urban retrofit).

These two models combine estimates of energy-related carbon emissions (at a street, suburb or city level) with social information collected by Community Energy Manager. LEMUR takes this integrated data to provide a service that helps design targeted retrofit programmes that will work for a specific local area.

The ability to efficiently target areas in need of retrofit will not only help local authorities but also energy companies and retrofit suppliers. It will also give local community groups the tools to manage, survey and deliver community energy projects on the ground, in their local area.

Testing in Bicester

In spring 2016, the LEMUR service was tested with a small pilot project conducted in Highfield, Bicester (Oxfordshire). Volunteers spoke with over 50 householders about their energy use and the efficiency of their houses and possible indicators of fuel poverty.

The data was then mapped using Community Energy Manager and DECoRuM to identify key clusters of houses with the potential for retrofit. In partnership with the Affordable Warmth Network’s local boiler scheme, four households were also identified as being eligible for a free boiler. Further methods of engagement were also trialled including school and community events.

The service

The main outcome of this project is the development of a bespoke and flexible digital service for retrofit programmes, for community groups to use at very low cost and more bespoke services available to local authorities, housing associations, researchers and retrofit providers alike. If you would like to know more, please contact Matt Wood (matt.wood@bioregional.com)