A performance evaluation of mainstream timber framed and traditional masonry housing in the UK

Bailey, David (2016) A performance evaluation of mainstream timber framed and traditional masonry housing in the UK. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Within the UK traditional masonry construction techniques are struggling to deliver the quantity and ecological quality of housing required by an ever increasing UK population.

This research employs a case study review of a mainstream mixed timber frame and masonry housing development - Green Street, in order to explore the ecological viability of timber prefabrication as an alternative to the established masonry construction methods currently employed in the majority of British housing.

Four houses of each construction type in the Green Street development were outfitted with a number of environmental monitoring sensors for continuous monitoring. In addition the study incorporates fabric testing in the form of air permeability testing, Co-heating analysis, thermography, and a life cycle analysis. Building Use Survey, project management and design team interviews and an industry questionnaire form the final part of the evaluation protocol.

The study revealed that heating the timber dwellings ultimately required less energy per degree difference between inside and outside temperatures. During the summer the timber housing displays a greater diurnal temperature swing, while on average the temperature remains consistently lower than the masonry housing. The masonry housing was found to be both more air tight and exhibiting a lower heat loss coefficient, despite that, the performance gap between design and reality for space heating is less in the timber prefabricated housing. The life cycle analysis revealed that the timber walls have a lower impact on climate change.

BUS methodology results found that construction type had little to no impact on occupants. The design team review highlighted the need for a greater level of prefabrication in timber housing to increase precision and work around a serious skills shortage. An industry questionnaire suggested that timber construction in the UK can often suffer from poor construction practice, predicated by a gap in specialized knowledge.

The research concludes that in this instance, the timber prefabrication technique produced dwellings that perform ecologically on par with their masonry counterparts. In answering the research question, the evidence suggests that at this stage the technique would be better employed on a case by case basis and supported by specialists in timber fabrication, rather than implemented as a blanket alternative for existing masonry construction.

Already a number of insights from this research have filtered into industry practice and will continue to better inform both industrial and academic partners in their decisions regarding the use of timber prefabrication in mainstream UK housing.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Gillott, Mark
Wilson, Robin
Keywords: uk, housing, timber framed, masonry, houses, dwellings, environmental performance
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NA Architecture
T Technology > TH Building construction
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Engineering > Built Environment
Item ID: 33628
Depositing User: Bailey, David
Date Deposited: 20 Jul 2016 14:25
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2017 11:19
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/33628

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