Retrofitting programme reduces bills

25 Jan 2012

Salford based social housing provider, Salix Homes and Arup today published a report demonstrating how the holistic retrofitting programme on an Edwardian housing estate in Salford has saved the tenants an average £353 on their gas bills.

The annual savings for the residents of the New Barracks Estate in Salford will be revealed today at the Retrofit Conference 2012 held in Salford Quays.

Arup was commissioned by Salix Homes to provide low carbon retrofit advice for its Decent Homes Plus programme on the New Barracks Estate, comprising of 78 Edwardian properties. Arup spent a year evaluating retrofitting options, understanding tenants’ energy behaviours pre and post retrofit and the resulting social return on investment. It found that over a 20 year period the monetised value of benefits to all relevant stakeholders was estimated to be £3.4m, giving a total social value added (difference between the investment and the total social benefits) of £1.58m.

Salix Homes is an Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO). Salix Homes is now working with AGMA (Association of Greater Manchester Authorities) who have been asked by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to trial aspects of the Green Deal.

It has delivered a successful programme between 2009 and 2012 combining social housing improvements with an ambitious low carbon retrofit agenda and worked with the New Barracks Tenant Management Organisation to pilot the scheme. Tenants have been in receipt of new boilers and control systems, double glazing, internal insulation, installation of mechanical heat recovery ventilation systems (MVHRs) , new bathrooms, new kitchens, properties re-wired and new front doors.

In addition to physical improvements to the buildings, tenants were given advice and guidance on how and where they can save more energy. Gas use savings to date equate to an average reduction of 47% in properties’ C02 emissions. These changes will contribute considerably towards the local authority’s target to reduce CO2 levels by 40% by 2013.

Arup used the New Economics Foundation's Social Return on Investment (SROI) tool to calculate the value of the predicted social impact resulting from the low carbon retrofit programme. The SROI methodology resulted in a full stakeholder map and the use of financial proxies to put a monetary value on identified qualitative and quantitative impacts. The predictive study showed that for every £1 invested in the programme return to society worth £1.58 is predicted.

Measuring the social impact of the built environment is a growing area of research, as governments and policy makers look to evaluate how buildings and urban planning impacts the people and communities who use them.

"Salix Homes is one of the few social landlords to carry out simultaneous assessments of carbon savings, tenants’ energy use behaviours and social return, to improve its housing stock and deliver greater benefits for both landlord and tenants. Listening to our tenants has been key, along with gathering fuel bills for analysis over the course of a year. This allowed us to understand a number of factors including the value of reduced gas bills, reduced repairs costs, increased training and employment,, a significant increase in comfort levels for tenants and a lower carbon impact, and highlighting an average household saving of £353 on tenant’s gas bills annually.”

- Salix Homes Head of Property Services Matt Roberts

“Salix Homes has led the way in taking a broader view on improving its housing stock. Rather than focusing solely on physical improvement, Salix has looked at how this will help improve energy consumption and the environmental impact of its properties, as well as the experience of tenants living in its homes. In a period of austerity, demonstrating the value of investment in building improvements is a powerful tool which can be applied to a range of organisational or individual investments. As organisations look to benefit from the green Deal, this provides a powerful way of demonstrating the value of investment.”

- Arup Associate Director Tim Whitley

“It was important that the retrofit respected the heritage and the beauty of our homes and still delivered modern, warm interiors.
“We have achieved this as our homes are now at a much better standard and we are making great savings on our gas bills.”

- Co-ordinator of the New Barracks Tenant Management Co-operative Limited, Julie Thompson

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Beth Hurran

T+44 (0) 20 7755 5403

Emedia@arup.com