Innovation That Matters

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Drones and AI map how heat leaks out of buildings 

Property & Construction

The technology can be used to plan retrofits and inform both pricing and verification

Spotted: There has been a lot of talk in the UK about the importance of improving insulation – and for good reason. Many British people live or work in poorly insulated buildings, and retrofitting insulation can have a dramatic effect by reducing costs, carbon emissions, and health issues. However, upgrading insulation is expensive, and a lack of good data about existing insulation makes it difficult to determine which buildings to retrofit first. It also makes tracking progress towards net-zero targets all but impossible.

This is where startup Kestrix can help. The company uses drones fitted with thermal cameras to map where and how heat is leaking from buildings at scale. Its AI-based Rapid Thermal Performance Assessment (RaThPA) algorithm then interprets the thermal images to predict U-values – the rate at which heat is transferred – of different materials, while identifying faulty insulation, and estimating overall space heating demand intensity (the rate at which a building as a whole leaks heat).

The idea is to help housing providers, utilities, and local governments direct energy efficiency spending to where it will make the biggest difference, while remotely verifying outcomes. Kestrix’s proprietary heat-loss datasets can also be used to build tools that streamline energy performance benchmarking.

Kestrix recently announced a £500,000 pre-seed funding round to build what it calls “the Google Maps of Heat loss.” Along with partners Peabody Trust and United Living Property Services Ltd., Kestrix has also been awarded a £240,000 grant from Innovate UK to further develop and commercialise the RaThPA algorithms for use at scale.

Other innovations helping to boost energy-efficient retrofitting in the Springwise library include AI that identifies inefficient homes, AI-powered decarbonisation plans for real estate portfolios, and an innovative process for making existing homes ready for net zero

Written By: Lisa Magloff


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