Reducing carbon and addressing fuel poverty
Our delivery of the London Borough of Enfield’s first retrofit programme has used a fabric-first approach taken to install energy efficiency measures for 50 properties, part-funded by the Green Homes Grant Local Authority Deliver Scheme (LAD) phase 1b.
As the first social housing retrofit project delivered in Enfield, the project was a collaborative journey where lessons were learned and best practice developed in a multitude of areas, including PAS 2035 compliance, resident engagement, and supply chain management.
As with all social housing retrofit projects, Enfield’s first retrofit programme was in response to the Government’s target for all UK social housing to have an Energy Efficiency Certificate (EPC) rating of C. The council’s strategy, however, was to address this issue more broadly and help tenants reduce energy bills while also decreasing the carbon emissions from its social housing stock, in-turn contributing towards its wider zero carbon goals.
A whole house approach
Taking a whole house approach, Enfield’s LAD 1B project began with PAS 2035 compliant retrofit assessments to evaluate each property’s viability for energy efficiency retrofit and the best measures to increase property efficiency. Measures adopted included:
- Loft insulation
- Environment fans
Ahead of installation, planning approval was required for all properties within the programme, a process that was delivered by project architects, Randall Shaw, and overseen by us.
Ensuring the project was aligned to asset maintenance, we also provided Enfield with options for capital investment while scaffolding was in situ. This involved structural assessments of properties to ensure suitability for the energy efficiency measures. As a result, one property required a structural lintel to be replaced while others had slipped roofing tiles replaced.
Robust supply chain strategy
Our experience in social housing retrofit has proven that overcoming challenges is only possible when a collaborative approach is adopted, and while early engagement with Enfield was vital to the project’s success, this is also true of relationships with supply chain partners. Market volatility and the current demand for green technologies must be balanced with the time-bound pressures of funding compliance and this was one of the greatest challenges in Enfield’s LAD 1B project.
Lead-in periods for energy efficiency materials were kept under continual review and products that were in high demand were ordered early to prevent delays. Likewise, when wet and cold weather posed risks to the project, the team requested quicker drying renders from the system suppliers to keep the project on course.
We are committed to using a local supply chain network, and though social housing retrofit projects require highly specialised and PAS2035 compliant suppliers, the team upheld its commitment to buying local where possible. For the Enfield LAD 1B project, this included EWI supplied by Buildtherm and Licata.
Ensuring respectful resident engagement
As with all occupied refurbishment projects, communication with residents is the cornerstone of successful housing retrofit projects. For this project, our team included a full time Resident Liaison Officer (RLO), whose role was to help ensure that misconceptions about energy efficiency measures were addressed and that residents were fully aware of the works being undertaken, what they would involve and the benefits they would bring. As a result of this regular contact, residents now understand how the technology works, which will ensure measures continue to have a positive impact on efficiency long after the project has completed.
Where resident liaison proved challenging, we established a non-access strategy for properties. After three attempts had been unsuccessful in engaging residents, this was flagged to the council and a reserve property list was established to maximise the funding.
Key to the success of this project has been our ability to solve problems and apply quick thinking to overcome unforeseen challenges in the retrofit work, such as demands on the supply chain. We developed a risk register, allowing for clear ownership of key risks to ensure appropriate management was put in place. This included regular review meetings with system suppliers and retrofit co-ordinators to discuss any design or supply issues so the team could forward plan material orders to prevent project delays.
Working within PAS20:35 compliance is a relatively new process for the industry and adaptation and understanding of the prescribed requirements was key from the outset for the Enfield LAD 1B project. Critical to this project was the appointment of PAS 2035 consultant partners and PAS 2030 accredited contractors, of whom all were fully engaged in the risk review meeting
During the project, it was found that EWI installation was not fully possible where gas meters were in place. We therefore sourced an innovative Aerogel product that could be used in conjunction with the EWI system and would achieve the required insulation.
Social housing retrofit is a journey for all and with policy, funding and compliance evolving at pace, there are continued opportunities to develop best practice and to learn lessons.
A key lesson from Enfield has been the involvement of all project stakeholders as early as possible in the project, including the planning authority, residents, and supply chain partners. We found that the more transparent the process, the more efficiently the project could be delivered and as such, we are taking forward a number of best practice initiatives to future retrofit projects, including:
- Resident engagement: providing residents with case studies and before and after photographs of energy efficiency measures to support their understanding of the technology
- Scaffolding: installing permanent wall plugs for future scaffolding to protect the EWI’s warranty
- PAS 2035 compliance ensuring compliance by constantly reviewing the evolving PAS 2035 criteria to ensure the project is in-line with funding requirements.
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