Northampton SHDF demonstrator

Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund Demonstrator

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Northampton SHDF demonstrator

Working collaboratively in Northampton.

In Spring 2022, we completed one of the first Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund Demonstrator (SHDFD) projects for Northampton Borough Council, adopting a truly collaborative approach to social housing retrofit.

This programme saw us work in partnership with Northampton Partnership Homes (NPH) to develop a programme that would first and foremost reduce heating demand but would also help inform NPH’s future investments in energy efficiency measures.

With work undertaken in occupied properties, our resident liaison strategy was vital to the project’s success. Led by NPH, Wates engaged with residents from the project’s outset, keeping them informed while work was carried out, supporting our team’s COVID-secure working practices and ensuring that disruption to residents was kept to a minimum.

Northampton partnership homes

Reducing heating demand

Embarking on its first housing retrofit project, NPH’s primary objective was to reduce heating demand, in-turn reducing carbon emissions and reducing energy consumption. The retrofit project was required to achieve SHDF heat outputs, a minimum Energy Performance Certificate rating of C and reduce the properties’ heating demand down to as close to 50 Kw/m2 as possible.

Comprising 80 properties, the retrofit programme took a whole-house fabric-first approach and included a mixture of external wall insulation (EWI), ventilation, loft insulation, and new windows and doors, all of which were funded through the SHDF.

With an ambition to explore additional efficiency measures, NPH also invested its own funding into installing air source heat pumps (ASHP) to eight properties and PV panels to 49 properties.

Northampton partnership homes

Working with agility and applying innovation

One of the greatest successes of the demonstrator project was our agility in the programme design. Current demands on the UK’s green technology industry present universal challenges in retrofit projects, particularly where compliance with funding requires on time delivery. We built contingency and flexibility into the project’s supply chain strategy, enabling it to adapt the programme in the event of supplier delays, ensuring the project stayed on course.

As leaders in housing retrofit, we work with customers to source the most effective solutions to suit property type, but this expertise also enables us to broaden the scope of projects to embrace innovation. At this project, the application of innovation included the installation of Switchee Landlord Hub and Dashboard systems in all 80 homes to enable NPH to calibrate data to assess potential inefficiencies in the PV systems. We also used a Soltherm 170mm expanded polystyrene EWI system to ensure the correct U values, the method of ensuring the effectiveness of the insulator.

Northampton SHDF demonstrator

A robust and compliant supply chain strategy

Since launching its social housing retrofit service in 2020, we have developed extensive best practice in programme design and implementation, particularly with regards to compliance. Working with our PAS 2035 Compliance partner, Energy Specifics, we provide an end-to-end retrofit service that is fully PAS 2035 compliant to align to the funding streams available to social landlords. Our commitment to compliance also extends to its accredited supply chain partners, all of which were required to be certified and able to deliver in the necessary timescales for the NPH contract.

Nevertheless, employing a local supply chain is a shared priority of both Wates and NPH and as such, we worked with the local window and door contractor to support them through their PAS 2030 certification to ensure the need for compliance did not become an obstacle to the employment of local supply chain partners.

Northampton SHDF demonstrator

Future carbon reduction strategy

One of the greatest successes of this demonstrator project is its wider application to future retrofit work. NPH matched its SHDF funding to invest in wider energy efficiency measures, including ASHP and PV, to review suitability for larger programmes further down the line.

Informing NPH’s future investments in energy efficiency measures is also reliant on the lessons learned from the programme. A deep understanding of the properties was required to ensure the most appropriate energy efficiency measures were installed and that, crucially, any necessary remedial work was carried out before installation.

Furthermore, NPH has initiated research into the social benefits of social housing retrofit and is working in partnership with Northampton University and Wates Living Space Tenant Liaison Officers to understand the wider benefits that social housing retrofit brings to residents’ social health and wellbeing.

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