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To build or not to build – that is the DORIC

With the continuous drive towards achieving net zero, demand for increased energy efficiency for the UK’s housing stock shows no sign of slowing down. Deploying its advance thermal imaging survey technology and intuitive cloud-based, data-driven DREam platform, IRT Surveys (IRT) is achieving significant gains in energy performance, while reducing dependency on the national grid and fossil fuels across Aberdeen City Council’s (ACC) portfolio of 22,000 homes.

The £5.2m Domestic Optimised Retrofit Innovation Concept (DORIC) project – backed by the Department for Business Energy & Strategy (BEIS) £50m investment fund – saw IRT founder, Stewart Little, bring together an experienced consortium of organisations including project lead ACC, co-funder and supplier of photovoltaics (PVs) and batteries Smart Metering Systems plc (SMS) plc, as well as Robertson Construction as main contractor.

A strong foundational partnership between ACC and IRT – resulted in thermal imaging of more than 40,000 homes over 19 years – laid the foundation for the collaborative project. While IRT’s knowledge of the SMS offering, together with their understanding of the retrofit market, helped scope the project quickly and efficiently.

Data led insights

With a sizeable portfolio to retrofit, ACC and IRT understood the importance of making data driven decisions to optimise the programme. A lack of quality housing data is a very real barrier retrofit solutions.

Inaccurate data often impedes the deployment of energy saving solutions at speed and scale. In this regard impartial insights from IRT’s DREam online platform helped ACC discover energy-saving opportunities expeditiously using their own property data.

By uploading the council’s entire portfolio into the DREam software, a previous inordinate array of complex housing data was augmented, merged and filtered to help steer and dictate the programme of works. What’s more, by effortlessly aligning data with investment criteria such as The ECO3 Funding Scheme, suitable funding opportunities could be identified for the project.

Assessing ACC’s portfolio against search criteria including whether homes could take PV structurally and external wall insulation, as well as aspects such as the presence of asbestos, orientation, fuel poverty, kitchens, bathrooms, structural integrity and condition, helped accurately determine which homes would be best suited for retrofit.

Such was the impact that the council’s 22,000 homes were initially filtered down to 400 for further thermal image surveying by the IRT team and engagement with the occupants. A total of 150 occupiers responded to a letter advising they wished to take part in the project, allowing the next steps to be taken.

IRT were then able to develop a comprehensive single survey process – including non-invasive visual and thermal imaging, that eliminated damage to building fabric. This was done in partnership with SMS and Robertsons to minimise disruption for the occupiers.


By bookending all works with thermal imaging and comprehensive internal surveys on 10 archetypes – comprising air tightness, EPC’s, retrofit assessment, retrofit co-ordination and gSkin U-value thermocouples – the efficacy of the project deliverables was attained, while an engaging, simple, visual audit trail was delivered. 

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