Businesses take the lead in reducing fuel poverty

19th August, 2013

MIDLANDS businesses are being invited to take up the BECCI industry challenge to propose innovative energy saving products to two leading midlands housing associations.

Stafford and Rural Homes (SARH) and South Staffordshire Housing Trust Association (SSHA), which own and manage a combined 11,000 homes in Staffordshire, are supporting a challenge for West Midlands businesses to help tackle fuel poverty.

The ‘Hard to Treat’ Challenge is being run by The Built Environment Climate Change Innovations project (BECCI), which is a project partnership between the Universities of Wolverhampton and Coventry supported by the European Regional Development Fund. The project aims to support businesses in the West Midlands that can help reduce carbon emissions from existing housing, making them cheaper to keep warm.

BECCI is giving small and medium sized firms, with ideas to help reduce carbon emissions in ‘hard to treat’ homes, the chance to pitch their products or services to SARH and SSHA before a Dragon’s Den style panel.

“SARH is delighted to take part in this project as we are always keen to look for new and innovative ways to make our homes more eco-friendly and reduce the fuel bills for our customers,” said Karen Armitage, Chief Executive of SARH.

Homes are considered hard to treat when they are difficult to make airtight and insulate or when they don’t have access to mains gas. This includes properties which have solid stone or brick walls, homes made of a mixture of steel and concrete and properties which don’t have lofts.

There are around 1,500 of these homes within SARH and SSHA’s housing stock and the best ideas in the challenge will be evaluated and considered for implementation within SARH and SSHA’s investment programmes.

“We are continually investing in our housing stock to improve the quality of housing we provide. We recognise that fuel poverty is becoming a significant issue for customers with rising utility costs and people’s household budgets being squeezed. We hope that the Hard to Treat challenge will introduce some new innovative ways we can improve the energy efficiency of our homes and in turn the lifestyles of our customers,” said Ursula Bennion, Director of Business Development at Housing Plus, of which SSHA is a part.

BECCI will also provide additional support to further develop the best ideas.

The assessment criteria for ideas put forward is as follows:

•    Level of improvements (heat loss, net fuel costs to end users, comfort levels and other benefits)
•    Amount of occupier disturbance
•    Time to install
•    Ease of use/training needs
•    Maintenance requirements
•    Costs (installation/set-up, running costs, estimated payback time)

“Tackling fuel poverty is so important and I am delighted that this challenge is seeking to minimise the energy costs of the customers of our stakeholder partners. We hope to attract some great ideas and The University of Wolverhampton, SARH and SSHA will be evaluating the proposals prior to the selection of the best ideas for presentation at the BECCI challenge panel,” said Glenn Barrowman, BECCI Project Manager.

The closing date for applications is 2nd September 2013.  

A shortlisting event of the best ideas will held w/c 16th September. The successful businesses will then be given the opportunity to pitch their ideas to SARH and SSHA.

Source: http://www.wlv.ac.uk/default.aspx?page=36384

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