Yorkshire Councils gathered to reveal their low carbon initiatives

13th November, 2013

Yorkshire’s plans for tackling our rising energy bills and carbon emissions were revealed at the Retrofit Yorkshire and Humber Conference on 12 November at Magna Science Centre, near Sheffield. Leeds City Region, Sheffield City Region and Hull City Council outlined how they are proposing to improve the energy efficiency of housing and businesses in Yorkshire and what this will mean for the local supply chain and stock owners.

To meet government carbon reduction targets the UK needs to retrofit 13,000 properties per week and to drive this energy efficiency refurbishment the Government launched the Green Deal and Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) last January. The Green Deal provides a loan to fund energy-efficiency improvements without any upfront costs. Instead the costs of the measures are paid for by the savings in subsequent energy bills. ECO funds the installation of energy efficiency measures in low-income households and areas, and in properties that are harder to treat.

In response to these Government incentives the public sector are stepping up to the UK’s retrofit challenge with pioneering schemes that are revolutionising the way energy efficiency measures for existing buildings are being implemented across the regions. Across the UK schemes are moving away from the current ‘measure by measure’ approach and instead are reviewing and addressing the energy efficiency needs of the whole property and are doing so at scale. Furthermore local authorities and city councils are forming alliances and many are entering into a public-private partnership with a delivery partner to market and administrate the schemes on their behalf.

Here is a snapshot of what happened in Yorkshire.

Sheffield City Region is driving the green economy with a range of energy saving initiatives

Sheffield City Council is currently in the process of selecting a partner for the delivery of ECO-funded retrofit measures to private housing in the city. The intention is that the successful partner will bring in the ECO and install the measures, working with the Council to identify and sign-up the relevant households, in particular those described as ‘hard to reach’ and those in fuel poverty. The lead measures will be heating systems and hard to treat cavities, but the installer company will offer a package of measures to suit each household’s needs as far as possible. One of the assessment criteria for selecting the successful partner will be their commitment to providing jobs and training to local people. The arrangement aims to build on the Council’s earlier and high profile 4 year programme that offered completely free cavity and loft insulation to more than 80% of the cities private residents.

The Council is also currently working with consultants VERCO across the City Region to develop programmes for housing retrofit across the area tailored to the needs and aspirations of the various authorities. The potential to build housing retrofit delivery programmes able to operate across the City Region is a key element of this work.

Sheffield is also preparing major improvements to its district heating network, which is the largest in Britain. A four year programme for the installation of heat meters to properties on the Council’s district heating systems will start early next year, taking in a total of 6,000 flats and houses. In addition, major improvements to the network infrastructure are planned to reduce the carbon content of the supply by providing new low-carbon heat sources, and to make the movement of heat around the network more flexible between the various clusters of properties and heat sources.

Councillor Jack Scott, Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “We know how important this agenda is and things are moving rapidly in Sheffield. We have got to reduce the energy use of households in both the private and public sectors to increase comfort and reduce fuel poverty. Our work will mean that Sheffield City Region will offer the opportunity to grow successful energy saving schemes across the area, underpinned by steady and sustainable growth in the green economy.”

Hull City Council’s search for a Green Deal partner

This summer Hull City Council put out a tender for a Green Deal contract worth up to £60m. The Council is looking for a partner to deliver energy efficiency improvements to its properties and those owned by East Riding of Yorkshire Council. Over a five year period they will deliver structural improvements (where appropriate) and external solid wall insulation to approximately 3,250 Council properties, alongside improvements to private sector properties either fully funded or through use of a loan. The Council will shortly enter dialogue with four shortlisted contractors with a view of reaching “Contractor Award” by March 2014. It is envisaged ESWI works to Council properties will begin in Spring 2014.

Leeds City Region aims to work together at scale

Leeds City Region has commenced a procurement process to procure a single delivery partner to deliver domestic energy efficiency measures on a whole house basis and measures to non-domestic buildings in private and public ownership. The ambition to undertake the process is built on the belief that in order to achieve CO² reductions to achieve local and national targets, alleviate fuel poverty and generate employment in the City Region we can achieve this by working together at scale thereby reducing the need for on-going procurement exercises and that by establishing a long term partnership we can all work more effectively. The Leeds City Region LEP has four priorities two of which are enabling a flexible and skilled workforce and facilitating a low carbon economy.

The Green Deal and ECO Contract will be a part of the delivery of this ambition on a practical level to any householder who wishes to improve their home and reduce their energy bills, a part of the delivery will be education and behaviour change as this can save up to 20% on a household bill depending on how households use energy currently.

The successful bidder will be announced in May/June 2014 and there will be a strong accent within the contract on value for money for Customers and Social Impact which will involve growing the SME supply chain who will carry out the work and on training and education. The Council plans to improve a minimum of 12,000 homes in the first three years of the contract most of which will be owner occupied and private rented with some social housing.

Meet the people behind these energy saving schemes

Although it’s early days yet, these initiatives will clearly be driving low carbon retrofits in the region on a grand scale and represent huge opportunities for local suppliers and businesses. Businesses met the people behind these pioneering schemes at the Retrofit Yorkshire and Humber Conference. Organised by Retro Expo Ltd, the one day conference was packed with presentations and workshops with time set aside to network. As well as the city councils, key note speakers included: SIG360, Yorkshire Energy Partnership, Kirklees Council, Yorkshire Energy Services, Leeds Metropolitan University, North Yorkshire Green Neighbourhood Challenge, Willmott Dixon, Energy Saving Trust and Green Energy Centre. The latest energy efficient technologies were also on display by exhibitors including: SIG360, Structherm, 4ECO and Ceramic Fuel Cells.

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