Tiny sensors to protect Audley End House

Audley End House near Saffron Walden, Essex

Audley End House - Credit: English Heritage

Tiny sensors are being installed inside Audley End House to monitor environmental changes within the building.

The scheme is thought to be the first of its kind, and puts Audley End House and Gardens on a technological par with The Shard.

It follows a successful trial already undertaken at Kenwood House in London.

English Heritage, which looks after over 400 historic monuments, buildings and places, is working alongside Ecclesiastical Insurance and technology firm Shepherd.

The sensors are battery-operated and send live real-time data back to be analysed, enabling English Heritage to identify performance issues in its mechanical and electrical plant, or catch minor leaks before they cause major problems.

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The technology learns what normal looks like for the building over a short period.

English Heritage’s annual budget for maintaining its buildings is around £15million. The pilot is assisting the charity’s objective to achieve a 25 percent reduction in operating costs.

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Data and insights from the pilot will be shared with the UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage.

English Heritage is also expanding the pilot to monitor energy consumption and identify efficiencies at eight other energy-intensive historic sites across the country including Dover Castle, Eltham Palace and Battle Abbey. 

Rob Woodside, Conservation and Estates Director at English Heritage, said: “The application of live real-time monitoring has huge potential to revolutionise the management of heritage estates in a sustainable way.

"This pilot will enable us to minimise risks to the building and its irreplaceable collections by cost-effective evidence-based preventive maintenance.

"We are now equipped with real-time insight and a risk score which enables us to make smarter, more informed decisions around how we manage the performance and risk of stately homes and historic buildings, both day-to-day and strategically.

"This insight is absolutely essential for us to both better protect the building, its contents and revenue."

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