Zero Carbon - Jason Larkin

Each day across the UK millions of homes and buildings are wasting money on energy that could be used more efficiently. Heat, one of the biggest costs in running a home, too easily dissipates through walls, windows, and roofs. This constant loss goes predominantly unnoticed as it cannot be seen with the human eye.

Such inefficiency is the legacy of an out-dated approach to the built environment. This is now changing. With increased awareness surrounding our carbon footprint and dramatic increases in our energy bills, attitudes to design and construction are shifting towards a more efficient built environment. This progressive approach to design combined with different technologies allow both new and old properties to become more efficient and comfortable, enabling a dramatic reduction in energy bills and importantly, our carbon footprint. This reduction will play a huge part in Brighton & Hove’s One Planet Living status as up to 40% of overall energy usage comes from the buildings we live and work in.

This photo essay uses technology to capture and illuminate the unseen savings brought through the adoption of science and design. Focusing on the buildings across Brighton and Hove that have been built or retrofitted to become more efficient, thermal imaging technology illustrates the variations in temperature. The result is an ability to photograph the movement of heat across a building thus identifying if heat and energy are where they need to be.

Essay approach

The development of properties into more efficient and environmentally sound habitats is an engaging and positive story. However, visually it is a little more challenging as what is essentially being tackled is not visible to the human eye; we cannot see heat leaking through walls or cold air moving through floorboards, except with a thermal imaging camera. These cameras pick up variations in temperature through radiation detection in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum.

There are two main reasons for choosing to work with this technology. The main one is the ability to see and capture the results of retrofitted and passive building projects; buildings built specifically to reduce the amount of energy used and lost. This allows viewers to see and experience a real sense of the movement of heat through a building. To bring an even greater clarity, where possible I have included surrounding buildings in the photographs that have not been retrofitted, thus creating a colour contrast between the two different buildings.

The second reason was to take advantage of the unique style in which this camera captures and creates images. The effects of the thermal radiation detected and the use of colour palates produce a striking and different style of image, but also one that references a more technical and scientific aesthetic.

This project was kindly supported by Ti Thermal Imaging Ltd who provided the thermal imaging equipment: