Ecclesiastical Insurance and English Heritage, in partnership with technology firm Shepherd, are extending a pilot that puts 18th century Kenwood House on a technological par with The Shard.

The successful first of its kind scheme to pilot sensors to monitor and manage building services at Kenwood House, the former home of William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, located on the edge of Hampstead Heath in London, will continue for another year.

Dozens of sensors - which are unobtrusive, battery-operated and do not require Wi-Fi - were installed inside Kenwood House to discreetly monitor environmental changes within the building. The technology learns what normal looks like for the building over a short period.

The sensors deployed in the estate then send live real-time data back to be analysed, co-habiting seamlessly with any existing building management and environmental monitoring systems. The sensors enable English Heritage to identify performance issues in its mechanical and electrical plant, or catch minor leaks before they cause major problems.

The technology has monitored Kenwood House throughout the pandemic, identifying key areas where costs savings and efficiencies can be made, as well as identifying how to optimise its building services during the national lockdowns.

The pilot is part of Ecclesiastical’s loss prevention innovation programme and is helping English Heritage to reduce costs. English Heritage’s annual budget for maintaining its buildings is around £15 million. The pilot is assisting the charity’s objective to achieve a 25% reduction in operating costs.

Ecclesiastical, English Heritage and Shepherd are collaborating with the UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage to give Data Science for Cultural Heritage MSc students access to data and insights from the pilot.

English Heritage is also expanding the pilot to monitor energy consumption and identify efficiencies at nine other energy-intensive historic sites across the country including Dover Castle, Wrest Park and Brodsworth House1.

Faith Kitchen, heritage director at Ecclesiastical Insurance, said: “As the UK’s leading insurer of Grade I listed buildings, we’re passionate about protecting Britain’s heritage. As part of our innovation programme we’re delighted to be partnering with English Heritage and Shepherd to expand our cutting edge technology pilot. We know that rising energy costs are a major concern and incidents such as electrical fire or escape of water can be disastrous for customers, which is why we’re piloting innovative solutions to detect issues as early as possible.”

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 Kenwood House, both day-to-day and strategically. This insight is not a nice to have but absolutely essential for us to both better protect the building, its contents and revenue.”

Stephen Chadwick, CEO at Shepherd, said: “We are delighted to be supporting Ecclesiastical and English Heritage as they transform the way they manage risk. Shepherd’s real-time, 24/7 monitoring and alerts, pre-empt and prevent damage, breakdowns and emergencies. Our risk analysis enables a consolidated overview of the performance of the property to support keeping Kenwood House and its contents, safe for many years to come.”