United Kingdom: a satellite maps the energy efficiency of buildings

An English project aims to classify buildings in the country to assess the dispersion of energy and maximize thermal insulation

Energy efficiency: HotSat-1

The HotSat-1 satellite will be tasked with mapping UK buildings in order to assess their energy loss (Photo: SSTL)

The energy efficiency of buildings has become an increasingly important priority in the context of the fight against climate changes. In the UK, a country that has set ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, an innovative project is taking shape to address this problem.

It's called HotSat-1, it was launched into orbit on June 12 and will have the task of carefully mapping buildings in the United Kingdom in order to evaluate their energy dispersion and improve energy efficiency. Let's explore…

Italy ninth in the world for sustainable construction, but it can do more
United States: the fight against the climate crisis starts with roads and infrastructure

energy efficiency: houses
UK homes are among the least performing in Europe when it comes to energy efficiency (Photo: Unsplash)

HotSat-1: the thermal satellite that revolutionizes building monitoring

Named for its thermal monitoring capabilities, the HotSat-1 satellite is equipped with an infrared sensor developed with support from British and European space agencies. It was successfully launched aboard a rocket SpaceX Falcon-9 from the Vandenberg space base in California, and is the latest creation of the London start-up SatVu and Surrey Satellite Technologies (SSTL).

Operating at an altitude of 500 kilometres, the satellite is able to achieve the resolution needed to detect individual details on the roofs and walls of buildings.

The UK, with the vast majority of homes built before 1970, has one of the most inefficient housing stocks in Europe.

The energy retrofitting of buildings would not only allow owners to save on energy costs, but would also help the country achieve the ambitious goal of climate neutrality by 2050.

Through the thermal mapping provided by HotSat-1, it will be possible to identify the buildings that need thermal insulation interventions.

The data collected by HotSat-1 will have a wide range of applications, not just in the environmental sector, but also in the financial, insurance and even military fields.

For example, they will provide information on the temperature changes of certain areas over time, allowing you to monitor thepollution and identify any anomalies, such as sudden changes in river water temperatures, that could indicate environmental problems.

From assessing heat losses in buildings to measuring energy efficiency, the geospatial data collected by HotSat-1 will enable strategic planning, essential for making informed decisions and promoting a faster path to a sustainable future.

Sustainable Product Policy Initiative: new materials and EU policies
Unboxing Carbon, the catalog for building with real green materials 

HotSat-1 is also able to pinpoint areas that contribute to the urban heat island effect (Photo: SSTL)

Not just buildings: in fact, a fight against heat islands is being waged from the sky

HotSat-1 not only maps the thermal signature of buildings, but also quickly identifies structures and open spaces that contribute to the urban heat island effect.

During sunny days, materials such as asphalt and concrete absorb solar energy, generating and storing heat. At night, these materials gradually release the captured heat, keeping cities hotter than surrounding areas.

This situation creates a sort of microclimate within urban areas, with significant consequences. Higher temperatures can lead to discomfort for residents, increase energy demand for cooling buildings and have a negative impact on air quality and human health.

The information gleaned from HotSat-1 will be invaluable to city planners who can make informed decisions about planting trees to cool thetechnology

“Space already plays a vital role in enabling us to understand and mitigate the risks of climate change. HotSat-1 is a milestone for the evolution of Earth observation technology and for the benefits it can bring”said the director general of theBritish Space Agency, Paul Bate.

“This is a brilliant example of pioneering British technology in using space to improve sustainability, as the data provided will provide a clearer picture of the impact our energy use has on the planet, enabling organizations to all sectors to make better and more climate-conscious choices".

Because now we really have to talk about green houses
Thanks to urban greenery, crimes decrease: study in South Africa

energy efficiency: Phil Brownnett & Anthony Baker
SSTL director Phil Brownnett and SatVu CEO Anthony Baker lead the HotSat-1 project (Photo: SSTL)

Towards a green future: the key role of construction and infrastructure

Like many other countries that are facing the challenges of climate changes, the United Kingdom took the lead ambitious goals on sustainability in order to guide the transition towards a greener future. The key objectives include the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the increase in energy efficiency, the promotion of renewable energies and the creation of a less impactful economy dependent on fossil fuels. 

Construction is a key sector for the sustainability. In the UK, residential and commercial buildings generate 21 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. Focusing on energy efficiency, efficient insulation and the use of renewable energy is crucial to reducing these emissions. To the same conclusion the European Commission has arrived, which has recently drawn up a "staged" path to zero greenhouse gas emissions in the residential sector by 2050.

But that's not all: to reduce the "heat island" effect and its consequences, it is essential to rethink theurban environment. In addition to improving the energy efficiency of buildings, it is important to consider solutions such as planting trees and using natural flooring, such as those made by Solid Earth, a leading company in the sector of environmentally friendly roads. 

In a world increasingly engaged in the fight against climate changes, it is essential that nations adopt ambitious strategies that embrace housing and urban planning as central pillars of the transition towards a sustainable future. Only through a holistic and integrated approach, including a range of diversified solutions, can we preserve our planet for future generations.

RESKIN: the innovative smart project for green building 
More trees, fewer deaths from the heat: the decisive study in the "Lancet"

An overview of Satellite Vu's Net Zero Impact project

Energy efficiency: residential sector
The United Kingdom and the European Union aim to have zero greenhouse gas emissions in the residential sector by 2050