Tag Archives: Housing

RE:NEW – Progress & Setbacks Outlined

December 2013: The latest GLA Investment Performance Board meeting includes a useful progress report on the various Mayoral delivery programmes. ‘Project Performance Report‘ paper 10b Appendix 2 includes information of some challenges currently being faced by the Mayor’s residential energy efficiency scheme RE:NEW. The paper states:

Delivery of the RE:NEW Phase II carbon targets are significantly delayed and contractors will miss their contractual obligations. This is largely due to delays in the availability of ECO. The mitigation options are being reviewed including withholding performance payments and reallocating funding to the RE:NEW Support Team to reduce any shortfall in achieving the carbon targets. This combined with  a delay in having to wait for confirmation from the EIB for ELENA funding prior to commencing procurement of the full RE:NEW Support Team means the 2013/14 carbon targets may not be achieved…”

The delays have led to the project being graded an ‘amber’ rating under the paper’s ‘traffic light’ performance system.

A few days later, an update paper on RE:NEW was presented to November’s GLA Housing Infrastructure Group monthly meeting. This paper sets out:

  • RE:NEW has retrofitted over 99,000 homes to date since it was created in 2009
  • Over the next three years, RE:NEW will aim to support the letting of contracts that will save approximately 186,000 tonnes CO2 per annum through retrofitting approximately 232,000 homes
  • Capita Symonds were appointed to operate an interim RE:NEW Support Team – and began work in June of this year, with the GLA’s £150k funding covering programme activities until the end of December 2013. The RE:NEW paper proposes extending this funding by up to £200k for the Support Team to continue activities until the end of March 2014.
  • In contrast to the Investment Board’s mention of programme delays, the Housing Group’s paper relates that “progress made by the [RE:NEW Support] team to date has been excellent. The target of 1,500 tonnes of CO2 saved has been substantially exceeded; two contracts have been signed, with Brent Housing Partnership and LB Lewisham representing a total capital value of £24 million, and a saving of 4,333 tonnes CO2 per annum. There are a further 6 projects in procurement equating to a further £17.5 million capital investment and a saving of almost 6,000 tonnes CO2. This includes projects from Tower Hamlets Homes, LB Wandsworth and LB Havering. A further 17 boroughs and housing associations are engaged with the Support Team at the earlier stages of project development.”

The Housing paper also relates that the GLA is hoping to secure up to £3.85 million from the European Investment Bank’s (EIB) ELENA programme to procure the full RE:NEW Support Team for three years”. The funding process with the EIB has however taken longer than anticipated, leading to the necessity to provide funding to an interim support team.

The paper interestingly also sets out risks associated with not securing this ELENA financing, as well as not being able to access sufficient ECO funds as a consequence of the Government’s recent pronouncements on the supplier obligation energy efficiency programme. The paper states “Changing the ECO model would require secondary legislation…The [GLA] Environment Team is currently developing a proposed lobbying approach to help to address this risk, which may include lobbying for a regional target. If successful this could improve the follow [sic – must be ‘flow] of funding for projects.”

The paper highlights that a formal submission to the EIB has now been made and “funding confirmed in principle” should be sometime this month. Hopefully the EIB will be presenting the GLA with a welcome Xmas present this year – watch this space!

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Energy & Climate Questions to the Mayor

November 2013: This month the Mayor has been asked questions in relation to:

the price of Londoner’s gas bills; the uptake of the Green Deal in London; details of schools going through the RE:FIT Energy Efficiency Programme; the recent GLA-commissioned study looking at London’s Zero Carbon Energy ResourceLondon Energy Costs; the London Energy Efficiency Fund (LEEF) Loan to Croydon; work undertaken on Energy Efficiency guidance to SMEs; buildings adopting the GLA Sustainable Design and Construction Standards; whether the Mayor had sent a copy of the GLA’s  ‘Energy Planning: Monitoring the implementation of London Plan energy policies in 2012‘ research to CLG;  the Mayor’s response to a recent Environment Audit Committee recommendation that local authorities should have a statutory duty to produce low-carbon plans for their area; the GLA’s response to CLG’s Allowable Solutions consultation; Mayoral concern over CLG’s Housing Standards Review consultation; organisations working alongside the Mayor’s Affordable Warmth and Health Action Plan; events proposed around the Mayor’s Affordable Warmth and Health Action Plan; London’s children and fuel poverty; evaluation of the Know Your Rights Campaign; the Mayor’s support for nuclear; the Mayor’s response to former PM John Major’s comments on households having to choose between heating or eating; an update report on the Mayor’s Climate Change Mitigation and Energy Strategy; the Mayor’s response to concerns that the ECO is to be scrapped; the Mayor’s strategy for delivering the ECO and Green Deal in London; whether the Mayor has been in contact with CLG over the Housing Standards Review consultation.

Previous months questions to the Mayor can be found here.

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Innovative Kingston heat pump scheme

November 2013: Local MP and Secretary of State for Energy, Ed Davey, recently opened a novel heat source pump scheme providing heating to a residential scheme in Kingston drawn from the Thames.   An article in Renewable Energy Installer sets out that “Just 200 metres from the river bank, its 2.3MW community heating system draws up to 13 million litres of water each day through high efficiency heat exchangers. The low grade heat is carried to a plant room in the building via a closed loop where Mitsubishi Ecodan heat pumps delivers it as usable heat to meet all heating and hot water demands in the complex.”

A huge amount of background detail to this novel scheme can be read in trade journal Modern Building Systems here. Mitsibushi have described the scheme as “one of the most impressive in Europe if not the world. This is a pioneering installation and hugely innovative.”

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Funding Energy Efficiency Retrofit in London

November 2013: The GLA’s RE:NEW team have recently produced a guide identifying “potential sources of funding and finance available to London Boroughs, Registered Providers of Social Housing, private landlords and individuals to pay for energy efficiency retrofit measures in their housing.

The sources of funding covered include the ECO, London Energy Efficiency Fund (LEEF) and the Social Housing Fund. Download the guide here.

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Using Local Powers to Maximise Energy Efficiency Retrofit Toolkit

August 2013CAG Consultants on behalf of the GLA have developed a new toolkit – Using Local Powers to Maximise Energy Efficiency Retrofit Toolkit – “to help London’s councils identify and implement solutions to help attract investment and delivery for energy efficiency measures.  It focuses on three commonly cited challenges: planning, data and logistics.” The report highlights that:

  • The opportunity for energy retrofitting in London’s housing is immense: more than one in five of the U.K.’s solid walled homes are in the capital, as well as 14 per cent of England’s fuel poor homes.
  • Energy efficiency projects can regenerate entire communities, drive up housing values and engage residents in wider issues of sustainability
  • Retrofitting also provides an opportunity for pioneering local authorities to get an edge in the growing energy efficiency market and generate local jobs.
  • London has the highest proportion of properties in conservation areas of any UK city – around 500,000 properties. For these properties, planning permission is required for most works which change the external appearance of the property.

The guide provides some helpful references to planning guidance issued by Camden (also see here and here for further information) and Haringey to help support energy efficiency retrofit measures such as solid wall insulation. A further barrier often faced by retrofit programmes has been identifying the most vulnerable homes that would benefit from increased levels of insulation as a priority,  and the report provides some useful information on data-sharing initiatives undertaken by Southwark and Haringey councils, working alongside colleagues in housing and benefits teams, to help overcome this [p 27-30].

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HECA & London

July 2013:  Last year the Government issued new guidance, issued under the Home Energy Conservation Act (HECA), requiring all  (English) local authorities to publish a report by 31 March 2013 setting out their plans to achieve improved energy efficiency. Before looking at how London boroughs responded to this new requirement, it helps to have  a quick look back to how this all came about…

Following a short limited release consultation in June 2012 – DECC published its new guidance on 26 July 2012 for local authorities (or – as the guidance states – to English Energy Conservation Authorities) with Minister Greg Barker stating in the accompanying  press release that:

“This new robust guidance will support and encourage all local authorities to realise the significant benefits of upgrading homes. The Green Deal will be a fantastic tool to help with this, and I look forward to hearing how local authorities are using it to enable people to save energy and money.”

“A well developed report in response to HECA, highlighting key opportunities, will help attract potential funding partners to work with the authority and other local community groups and stakeholders to the benefit of local residents and businesses.”

A Local Government Association briefing note produced shortly after provides some useful background on the guidance requirements.

Continue reading…

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Affinity Sutton report includes key findings for the Green Deal

July 2013: Housing group Affinity Sutton has issued the final research report – as part of their Future Fit project – which examines the actual energy savings achieved by 150 homes as a result of installing energy efficiency measures. It’s an excellent study with some key findings which will be of important consideration to policy-makers on programmes such as the Green Deal.

The report – FutureFit: Final Report – is downloadable here (and data report here). The conclusions include the following:

  • A fabric first approach does work and residents,on the whole, have felt benefits from living in a retrofitted home.
  • Identifying energy savings was challenging and there needs to be more transparent mechanisms to show energy usage in the home.
  • Electricity use is unpredictable. Adding the GreenDeal charge to the electricity bill will make identifying savings even harder and could result in bad press for the policy.
  • SAP is not an appropriate tool for a PAYS model and could result in negative consequences for three out of four Affinity Sutton residents if they were to take up the Green Deal.

The foreword to the report [p4] by Affinity Sutton’s CEO sets out why the organisation in not utilising the Green Deal at present:

“Very few studies of energy bills before and after retrofitting social housing are in the public domain. This report is a major step forward for the sector in showing how retrofitted properties actually perform and how residents find living with the effects. But it is very much a starting point from which much more investigation is required. And although the results make it clear why Affinity Sutton is not currently supporting the Green Deal in our homes, this report sets out why it is so important to find a way to make it work for the very people who need it most.”

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New London Energy Efficiency ‘Programme Delivery Unit’ to be created

June 2013: The Deputy Mayor for Housing, Richard Blakeway, provided the opening address at the recent Energy UK/DECC ‘Energy Company Obligation (ECO)’ London event held at City Hall. Mr Blakeway spoke about the future ambitions for the Mayor’s RE:NEW home energy efficiency retrofit scheme stating that:

  • On the basis of London’s population, when compared with the rest of the country, up to 21% of the £1.3bn ECO fund should be coming into the capital each year. London has however fared poorly under the Government’s energy efficiency obligation schemes to date.
  • Hence, the GLA have been talking to the ‘big 6’ major energy suppliers are are looking to establish a Memorandum of Understanding to help increase the delivery of energy efficiency measures to Londoners’ homes.
  • These have been “really positive discussions” and the GLA are now working to identify a pipeline of homes that benefit from the ECO
  • The GLA are also examining the “niggles in the system” which are hindering progress, such as parking issues for energy companies when visiting homes.
  • The GLA are working with social landlords – who maintain around 800,000 homes in the capital – to identify ‘at scale’ homes that could qualify.
  • Initial work has identified a pipeline of 100,000 properties that could be “early beneficiaries of the ECO”. (for further information see consultancy Verco’s research paper on this earlier post).
  • To channel this work, the GLA are establishing a new Programme Delivery Unit. The PDU will work with boroughs, social housinglandlord and other stakeholders to support and increase uptake of the Green Deal and ECO schemes.
  • Positions are now being appointed for the PDU which should be operational by June.
  • Similar to other Mayoral programmes, such as RE:NEW and RE:FIT, the PDU will establish a framework contract for delivery agents, helping speed up the procurement process for local authorities and other housing providers.

A recent presentation by the GLA provides some further background to the new PDU.

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London Energy & Climate Priorities for the year

June 2013:  The GLA’s Environment Programme budget for 2013-14 has recently been approved by the Mayor, setting out a total spend of £946,000 to support the delivery of the GLA’s environment policy and programmes. The approval form sets out in detail priorities being focussed on across the environment programme,  but listed below are those actions specifically related to energy and climate:

  • £100,000 to fund consultancy support for Energy Assessments: The London Plan sets out a requirement for developers to submit an energy assessment as part of their planning application.The Environment Team appraises at least 300 applications per year and requires part time expert consultancy support to assist on some highly technical issues. More on this  here.
  • £125,000  for the preparation of the London Energy & Greenhouse Gases Inventory (LEGGI) and London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (LAEI) which provide baseline information on London energy use, greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions.
  • £30,000 for a CHP in social housing study. This research will help demonstrate the commercial viability of Combined Heat and Power schemes in social housing over the installation of individual boilers and support the application of the energy hierarchy in the London Plan.
  • Guidance for developers on revised Building Regulations. The review of Part L of Buildings Regulations will lead to revised standards for new buildings coming into effect in October 2013. This study will recalibrate the standards in the London Plan (Policy 5.2 – see page 141) and provide guidance to the London Plan team and developers.
  • £30,000 to London Climate Change Partnership (LCCP) to undertake 3 projects: a) working with commercial landlords to reduce climate risks to the premises and tenants, b) working with social housing landlords in 4 boroughs to reduce overheating risks, c) undertaking a scoping study to define and increase the ‘adaptation economy’.
  • £30,000 for Hydrogen London – The Hydrogen London 2013-2014 programme will deliver the Mayor’s vision of London as a global centre of hydrogen and fuel cell activity, services and early adopter of these technologies.
  • £10,000 to review London’s CO2 emissions from waste – including to monitoring CO2 emissions from municipal waste management and reviewing CO2 metrics for waste (for previous work on this issue by the GLA see the following links here and here)
  • £160,000 to retrofitting London –  £110k will support the development of interventions with London Councils and the boroughs to remove barriers to delivery of energy efficiency. These include guidance for conservation areas and areas with a high density of listed buildings; procurement and analysis of energy performance certificate (EPC) data to enable the targeted identification of properties, quantification of the impact of emerging energy legislation and build the investment case for increasing the ‘success rate’ for delivery of measures. £50k will support the development of delivery models to maximise engagement to increase uptake in the private rented and owner occupied sectors (70 per cent of London’s housing stock).
  • £66,000 to delivering decentralised energy – Funding the London Heat Map (£16k in 2013/14 and £9k per year thereafter) – which identifies opportunities for local energy supply projects. The costs involve the GLA maintaining the current site hosted by RADE includes cost of ArcGIS server licence (a one off fee), hosting and admin costs for the site. LWaRB have agreed to pay 50 per cent towards the licence and hosting services.
  • £30,000 for Energy master plans (EMPs) – these provide the strategic planning function that underpins the delivery of strategic DE projects. The EMP provides a high-level feasibility and viability assessment and puts forward a ‘preferred solution’ for the energy infrastructure of that area. Funding will support three EMPs . EMP costs around £50k to produce. GLA will make £~10k contributions, developers and boroughs will contribute the remaining required budget. Recent energy masterplans undertaken include major regeneration sites in Croydon, Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea, White City and London Riverside.
  • £20,000 in 2013/14 and £50,000 in 2014/15 to Licence Lite – following our recent application to become a supplier we will need to work with Ofgem and the electricity supply market to develop business model and submit for Mayoral approval. We will work with market advisors on completing matrix of services needed and completion of formal legal agreements for services. (see here and here for further detail).
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Making London’s Private Rented Sector Fit for Purpose

June 2013: The London Assembly Housing and Regeneration Committee has published findings of their year-long  inquiry into London’s private rented sector housing.  Their report – Rent Reform: Making London’s Private Rented Sector Fit for Purpose – includes 20 wide-ranging recommendations to the Mayor looking to improve the situation in London for what – the Committee calls – “Generation Rent”. Included amongst these is one specifically in relation to the energy efficiency of private rented sector homes.

Recommendation 9 states that the “Mayor needs to ensure that minimum energy efficiency standards are achieved in the private rented sector by 2018, in accordance with the Energy Act (2011), and that sufficient standards are achieved by 2025 to meet the targets for domestic carbon dioxide emissions set out in the Mayor’s Climate Change Mitigation and Energy Strategy. To do this the Mayor should identify properties in the private rented sector that could benefit from the Government’s Green Deal energy efficiency programme and inform landlords once formal offers become available. The Mayor should also ensure that landlords also have access to ECO funding streams to help ensure their property is energy efficient so tenants’ housing costs can be reduced.”

The Mayor published in December 2012 a new ‘London Rental Standard‘ setting out his proposals to help improve London’s private rented sector. The Committee however are fairly dismissive of the standard stating  that “The Mayor has made a commitment to improve the private rented offer in London through a new London rental standard that landlords are encouraged to sign up to. But a majority of the Committee believes that this standard does not offer anything new – it reflects current basic legal requirements and existing accreditation schemes.” [p9]

This is certainly true in relation to standard’s requirement on energy efficiency – which is exactly the same as those set out in the Government’s Energy Act 2011 (see an earlier post here for a full explanation – including why the requirement should be more demanding). But – confusingly- despite the committee’s criticism, their recommendation 9 does not look to go any further on energy efficiency than that set out by in the Housing Standard/Energy Act either…?

The committee also sets out that “One in four Londoners now rents privately and there have been significant rent rises in the capital. Median rents in London rose last year by 9 per cent to £1,196 per month.Recent work by the Energy Bill Revolution has highlighted the impact of rent increases in the private rented sector. Whilst the Mayor has as yet not made an assessment of the impact of such rent increases on London’s fuel poor, the Mayor has reported that his  RE:NEW  programme is paying particular attention to delivering energy efficiency measures to the private rented sector.

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Belgravia Energy Saving Experiment

June 2013:  “A scientific experiment to prove or disprove green-building theories is to be undertaken by Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster’s property company. Two almost-identical grotty hotels in Belgravia are the test bed.

Two weeks ago, Grosvenor obtained permission to rebuild 119 Ebury Street using the latest energy-saving materials. The Grade II-listed shell will be converted into three rented flats, and the energy use monitored.

Number 125 Ebury Street was converted into two rented flats last November. The five-storey listed block was rebuilt to meet present energy-saving standards. The apartments will be monitored to provide benchmark data.”

“Number 125 meets the current 40% carbon-saving target,” says Starr. “At number 119, we hope to meet the 2050 target of an 80% saving. That should translate into a 40% saving on the energy bills.” Those wishing to double glaze their listed home or flat in Westminster will have to be patient. Work on 119 will not finish until 2015. The two addresses will then be monitored for two years to prove the case — either way.”

Read full Evening Standard story here. Further information on technologies to be employed at 119 Ebury St – which include solar PV, solar thermal, air source heat pump and ‘phase change’ internal wall insulation, can be found on the following planning report by Westminster Council – and a lot more detail can be found on the development’s sustainability planning application reports here.

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Supporting the Green Deal in Social Housing

March 2013: A paper presented at the most recent GLA Housing Investment Group meeting has set out of the opportunities and challenges in expanding the Mayor’s housing retrofit programme, RE:FIT under the new landscape of the Green Deal and ECO. The paper sets out a proposal for additional funding for 2013/14.

“This paper seeks approval to allocate up to £150,000 for interim support to deliver early Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation (ECO) projects through the existing RE:NEW framework.

“To avoid a slowdown in delivery during this period, we intend to procure interim support to help manage the early pipeline of projects that have been developed through our work with social housing landlords.

Response to this project has been very positive and currently there are over £10m of potential projects currently being reviewed which could be ready to tender in the next 3-6 months, with a further £77m of identified projects under review. The total pipeline includes over £950m worth of potential projects and over 100,000 dwellings.

Additional information is available in Appendix A- RE:NEW project pipeline and Appendix B- Pipeline projects currently under review – status update

The process to identify projects was kicked off in a workshop at City Hall in December 2012: a great paper on Financing retrofit in London social housing by Verco was presented – and post workshop Verco have also prepared a summary of proceedings. Amongst the outputs  the key points for future success in attracting funding for energy efficiency retrofit in the social housing sector included:

  • Senior leadership buy-in (e.g. to overcome barriers)
  • Economies of scale
  • Get dedicated lead
  • Accurate stock data
  • Build relationships with suppliers and contractors ASAP
  • Know your stock – to be able to negotiate
  • Data – Tower Hamlets have a database of all properties in the borough (do surveys, get EPC data from DECC, not HEED – automatic calculation of Golden Rule) and;
  • There are wide differences in the helpfulness of planners in different London boroughs – if planners are less cooperative, try a multi-prong approach via sustainability officers or ward councillors (!)
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