An ‘Ecohouse' is harmoniously connected to its environment and to the well-being of its occupants. It can harvest renewable resources including water and energy. It provides all the fundamental functions of a good house, namely, to offer a safe environment with multiple comforts for those within it. A good house must provide a healthy, quiet, peaceful, thermally comfortable and safe environment, and it must be affordable.

Heriot-Watt's Ecohouse team are developing approaches to house design that will create homes with these qualities: homes that run well with low energy bills, produce minimal life cycle and carbon emissions and are pleasing places to inhabit.

The development of the Ecohouse approach calls upon a wide range of research expertise, skills and resources. The Ecohouse team uses some of the best research laboratories in the UK, namely Heriot-Watt's leading acoustic, water and materials labs, wind tunnels, and its artificial sky, heliodon and climate chambers. Our specialists work in interdisciplinary groups that build on their links with government and industry to produce innovative solutions to inform a new generation of housing approaches.

Our aim is to help to produce buildings that tread lightly on the earth. Our Ecohouse approach offers the genuine promise of sustainable, durable and climate-safe buildings that can future-proof us against twenty first century challenges.

Case study

AES Solar Panel Development and Testing

(CIC Start Online)

AES is the UK's original solar heating system manufacturer based in Scotland and they have been manufacturing solar hot water systems for small and large scale domestic customers, as well as for a wide variety of commercial and public sector clients throughout the UK. Following on from a project that one of our students took on to improve the basic design of the panel, AES Solar were keen to build a new design of the panel and test it under laboratory conditions. Funding was provided to model and produce the new panel for testing, and for analysis of the feasibility of the new product for market. The development of the improved solar panel had a wide range of impacts including reduced production costs, reduced CO2 emissions and more affordable clean energy for Scottish citizens.

In addition, our team worked with AES Solar on the Dundee Solar City Board with one of our Masters students producing an innovative city level account of the costs and opportunities putting solar systems on the whole of the city, showing reasonable costs to tackle Fuel Poverty in the city.

Going even further with the use of solar energy to heat homes Dr. Fan Wang has been working with students in the Climate Chamber researching the use of solar hot water systems to charge heat over the year into the fabric of Scotland's historic tenement buildings. It has been surprising to find out how high the solar potential is to provide clean, renewable energy to our homes at increasingly reasonable prices, even in Scotland.

Contributing staff

  • Professor Sue Roaf
  • Dr Fan Wang
  • Kate Beckmann
  • Kevin Bowe