Bicester’s Garth House makeover project shortlisted for prestigious RIBA research award

The energy saving refurbishment project of the Bicester’s Garth House was shortlisted for the prestigious Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) President’s Awards for Research 2016, which celebrate the best research in the fields of architecture and the built environment.

RIBA judging panel remarked the project work as: “…highly relevant…in relation to historic buildings, an issue which will increase in the near future, with an impressive range of the work and comparative assessment of elements of building performance.”

The project demonstrated that it is possible to make significant energy-saving improvements in a historic building whilst in continuous occupation, on time and under budget. The innovative project team successfully integrated traditional and cutting-edge approaches to tackle two primary challenges: how to respect the historical character of the prominently located Victorian building, and how to minimise the disruption to the business activity of the occupants during the works.

The results are impressive; energy saving targets were slightly exceeded with 58% reduction in annual energy use and 48% reduction in CO2 savings over the pre-refurbishment level. Gas consumption has reduced by 67%, while electricity use has reduced by 22%. Following the refurbishment higher temperatures can be achieved in the rooms during occupied hours even though the heating is on for far less amount of time than before. Occupant satisfaction survey and interviews conducted after the refurbishment have revealed a very positive opinion of the staff members towards the building, as compared to pre-refurbishment. Most of the occupants find the spaces more thermally comfortable in both summer and winter.

The project was led by Bicester Town Council, and project managed by sustainability charity Bioregional. Ridge and Partners LLP were the architects while researchers from Oxford Brookes University’s Low Carbon Building Group monitored and evaluated the performance of the building before and after the refurbishment. Funding was received from the Department of Energy and Climate Change as part of Innovate UK’s Invest in Innovative Refurbishment programme.

Here you can access the  shortlisted paper .