What is a Superhome?

The SuperHomes Rating Scheme

The SuperHomes Rating Scheme

The SuperHomes Rating Scheme (SRS) is an assessment encouraging the take up of whole house retrofit. It can be applied to all UK homes and accommodates all approaches to retrofit. SuperHomes are synonymous with high quality advanced retrofit. Our rating scheme provides a framework to help you achieve retrofit design aspirations and a means to understand the true performance of refurbished homes.

SuperHome status achieved through the rating scheme greatly enhances the likelihood of positive retrofit outcomes such as:

  • enhanced comfort conditions and a healthy indoor environment,
  • reduced environmental impact addressing climate change concerns,
  • lower annual running costs,
  • high occupant satisfaction levels,
  • increased demand and potentially higher property value.

 

Retrofit projects are assessed according to a star rating scheme with five performance levels. These levels are set to provide flexibility in retrofit ambition in recognition that many existing homes face renovation design constraints and that actual performance following retrofit will vary. Each level sets incremental benchmarks for household energy consumption and emissions and additionally prioritizes favourable outcomes for occupant comfort, health and well-being post-retrofit.

The SuperHomes Rating Scheme provides a comparable benchmark of home retrofit accomplishment with a five-star rating representing the pinnacle of SuperHomes performance, producing zero emissions and offering optimum comfort conditions.

The SuperHomes Rating Scheme Assessment

Assessment takes place at two key stages and ratings can be generated whether retrofit work takes place in a single operation or step by step over an extended period:

  • Design stage – an optional predicted SuperHomes rating assessment before retrofit work commences, and
  • Evaluation stage – A compulsory verified SuperHomes rating assessment following completion of retrofit work and monitoring.

Formal SuperHomes status occurs only at the evaluation stage following a 12 months period of monitoring. The SRS is innovative in that retrofit outcomes are evaluated and verified prior to the award of a one to five-star rating meaning success is based on actual, rather than predicted performance. The design stage assessment includes a comparison of estimated pre and post retrofit running costs as an affordability alert check.

The SRS has a rating level that all homeowners or tenants can aspire to and these are summarised below:

SuperHome Star rating level Indicative retrofit characteristics
* Homes heated by gas are permitted to become a SuperHome to 2030 as a transition period to phasing out of gas heating. This is enabled by a temporary concession on the annual household emissions cap. Homes will display a good level of fabric performance.
** Regarded as the entry level for SuperHomes, this rating is generally appropriate for homes which have constraints over their retrofit options, such as flats or historic buildings, to achieve. Fabric performance will be of a good level and heating will most likely be electric based to satisfy the emissions cap.
*** This level represents a deep retrofit with high fabric performance and achieving close to zero emissions meaning the retrofit package will most likely include on site micro-generation. It is anticipated that many homes which do not face significant retrofit constraints can aspire to reaching this level or better.
**** A four-star rating sets a challenging level of retrofit excellence to attain requiring very high levels of fabric insulation performance and invariably the provision of one or more types of micro-generation. The carbon emissions performance will be very close to zero.
***** The five-star rating is the pinnacle of the rating scheme and requires emissions to be zero (or positive). Many SuperHomes achieving this level of performance will have leading retrofit fabric performance characteristics which may necessitate the use of specialist dynamic energy modelling tools. Micro-generation provision will include considerable on-site electrical generation capacity. This rating is an extremely challenging to achieve and represents true exemplar retrofit performance.

Note: Heating demand and emissions are assessed under the SRS in respect of energy regulated by the Building Regulations Part L1B only and using SAP 10.1 current energy carbon factors and supply prices.

Performance monitoring starts following completion of retrofit work and lasts for a year to cover all seasons. A minimum monitoring package compliant with a basic specification is required and extends to the ability to record data from energy consumption meters and sensors tracking internal conditions. NEF can assist with selecting approved monitoring kit from suppliers

SuperHome certification takes place once the monitoring data has been evaluated. The star rating achieved by the retrofit project is determined according to where measured performance falls within the parameters set at each level. A SuperHomes display certificate is issued remaining valid for 5 years and the home is listed on the SuperHomes register.

Development of The SuperHomes Rating Scheme

The SuperHomes Rating Scheme was developed due to the urgent need for the UK’s 29 million existing homes to be retrofitted in response to the legally binding aspiration to bring emissions to ‘net zero carbon’ by 2050. To achieve this, based on a flat line projection, as many as one million homes will need to undergo retrofit transformations every year.

It was apparent to the National Energy Foundation (NEF) that as the UK embarks on this extremely challenging journey, that there was an absence of a rating scheme to help facilitate a nationwide programme of retrofitting. Creating a rating scheme that is straight forward in its aims and linked to NEF’s highly successful SuperHomes initiative and retrofit know how was the ideal opportunity.

The process to SRS development principally entailed:

  • extensive energy modelling to test and establish the performance tiers,
  • identifying a suite of health and comfort criteria (see Figure 1) and a means for their assessment, and
  • development of an assessment methodology that incorporates a process for performance evaluation.

The SRS has been designed to align with the provisions of PAS 2035 ‘Retrofitting dwellings for improve energy efficiency’. Provision of a Whole House Retrofit Plan (‘Medium Term Plan’) prior to the detailed project design taking place is recommended, although homes which have already undergone retrofit can join the process at the evaluation stage.

Funding for the SuperHomes Rating Scheme was provided by the MCS Charitable Foundation.

Want to get started with the SuperHomes Rating Scheme?

The first step is to register as a member of the SuperHomes network. Here you will find flow diagrams summarising the two-stage customer journey and assessment process, together with listings of Retrofit Coordinators (for producing Whole House Retrofit Plans) and SuperHome Assessors.

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