Tag Archives: Housing

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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Energy and Climate Questions to the Mayor

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

Collective Switching initiative by boroughs; details on decentralised energy projects being delivered by the Mayor; Mayoral response to the Government’s ECO brokerage consultation; the spend timeline for DECC funding to the GLA and boroughs; the GLA response to the Government’s consultation on the definition of fuel poverty; the impact of sun spots on London’s CO2 emissions; a London target for ECO; progress on delivering the Green Deal through the Mayor’s RE:NEW programme; recently published GLA environment reports; recent meetings of the Mayor’s Environment Adviser; the Mayor’s position on climate change; the commissioning of Weather Action; CHP capacity secured through planning in 2012; Sutton energy from waste plant; the Mayor’s support for solar power in London; emissions from the new London Bus; support from the DfT’s Green Bus Fund to TfL; changes being made to the  Congestion Change Exemption; details of the Greener Vehicle Discount; support for biomethane buses in London; Camden’s biomethane fuelling station; RE:NEW’s support to tackling fuel poverty and the list of non-GLA organisations that have utilised the RE:FIT programme.

Previous months questions to the Mayor can be found here.

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London Assembly write to Government about Fuel Poverty

December 2012: Following last month’s evidence session (and see here), the London Assembly Health and Environment Committee  has written to the Mayor, Department for Energy and Climate Change and energy companies about fuel poverty and domestic energy efficiency retrofit. The Committee’s correspondence can be seen here.

Writing to Minister for Energy Greg Barker, the Committee say: “The Committee would also like to know what lessons you are taking from the experience of CERT and CESP (and other programmes such as the GLA’s RE:NEW) for the Green Deal and ECO, and in particular for achieving better take-up and delivery in London. These new programmes provide an excellent opportunity to redress the previous imbalance and to show DECC’s commitment to fair delivery in London.”

The Committee quiz the Mayor over future proposals for the RE:NEW programme, asking “the Committee would like information on whether and how the plans it has heard are compatible with any further down-scaling of the annual GLA resource allocated to the programme. Your Deputy referred the Committee to the ECO funding stream but this is, we understand, for the retrofitting work itself. Is it expected to support GLA front-end activity, promotion or pipeline assembly? He also referred to a team of 90 staff within the Housing and Land Directorate, including staff transferring from the Homes and Communities Agency. The Committee would be interested to hear what quantum of staff time, and what other resource, will be allocated to RE:NEW work in 2013/14.”

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London Housing and Community Heating Presentations

December 2012: Three talks focused on communal heating were presented at the recent National Housing Federation ‘London Development Conference. The series of ‘go on, go green’ slides – downloadable here – contain some useful information:

  • Sam Hunt of BSSEC sets out some really clear slides on the design approach for heat mapping, as well as issues that need to be considered when implementing district heating and CHP. Worth a look.
  • Robert Greene of a2dominion housing association states that they have a 6,000 home development pipeline over the next 5 years, of which 70% will use communal heating systems
  • Results from an ongoing G15 – Communal Heating Research Project are also presented (G15 group – consists of London 15 largest Housing Associations) and highlight that there are currently 134 Schemes with Communal (Decentralised) heating. Much more very useful info is touched upon from the research, however the final results from this will not be published until April/May 2013. See the slides for the full information (slide 28 onwards).
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Mayor to encourage energy efficiency in the private rented sector

13 December 2012: The Mayor has today published a new ‘London Rental Standard’ where- the press release states – he “has called for the establishment of a new deal with landlords, letting agents and tenants based around a voluntary and transparent ‘London Rental Standard’ (LRS), which will be consulted on with the industry and launched next year by the GLA.”

Today’s publication, ‘The Mayor’s Housing Covenant: Making the private rented sector work for Londoners’, sets out the Mayor’s proposals for improving private renting for Londoners. Included in there are commitments that:

  • The Mayor has three principal objectives for improving the private rented sector (PRS) in London which includes promoting standards through improving the energy efficiency of the stock.
  • To do this the Mayor will work with government and energy providers to ensure that the Green Deal works for London’s PRS
  • The Mayor has also committed (para 2.3) to address fuel poverty and encourage more landlords to take advantage of energy efficiency programmes.

The report goes on to say (page 33) that:
Improving energy efficiency
In terms of energy efficiency the PRS tends to perform well compared with other tenures but there is still significant room for improvement. In 2010/11, the average SAP rating for private rented homes in London was 57.3, worse than in social housing but better than in owner occupied properties and better than the national average for the PRS. The latter is probably explained by the larger share of flats in London’s PRS compared with elsewhere (flats are generally more efficient than houses).

From 2016, landlords will not be able to unreasonably refuse requests from their tenants for consent to undertake energy efficiency improvements where they can be funded by the Green Deal, and from 2018 all private rented properties must be brought up a minimum efficiency standard.” The latter requires all private rented properties (domestic and non-domestic) should be brought up to a minimum energy efficiency standard rating, likely to be set at EPC rating “E”. Further information on DECC’s website here.

Appendix 1 of the document contains the draft London Rental Standard and the energy commitment goes no further than the rather disappointing standards set by Government in the Energy Act 2011 stating that “landlords must work towards compliance with duties imposed upon them by the Energy Act 2011, especially related to requests for energy efficiency improvements by tenants and in relation to low ratings in energy performance.” The Mayor should instead look to bringing in the recommendations on PRS energy efficiency made by a coalition of organisations during the passage of the 2011 Energy Bill.
Any  feedback on the contents of the Housing Covenant paper need to be sent to the GLA by 15 February 2013.

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Green Deal delivery plan for Barnet proposed

3 December 2012: Energise Barnet CIC, a social enterprise, has submitted a plan to Barnet Council to create £200 million of social, economic and environmental benefit through the installation of energy saving measures and renewables in 40,000 homes and buildings. Further details are on the following Energise Barnet press release.

Energise Barnet were awarded funding last year from Barnet’s Big Society Innovation Bank to help develop the proposal, and were also selected as a Pitch Pledge initiative (for which, see further information here and here).

Barnet highlighted earlier this year (see Q37) that it had “fully participated in both the Mayoral Group for London Councils and the Future of London research project on the Green Deal. It has used this involvement to enable an internal scoping process to take place on how it can best engage with the forthcoming national Green Deal agenda. From May 2012 the Council will begin work on preparing an Outline Business Case to explore and consider the way in which the Council might support the market to promote uptake ofthe Green Deal amongst local residents.”

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