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Tag Archives: Solid Wall Insulation
March 2016: …and so after eight years, we come to Boris’s last question time as London Mayor! And it’s good to see that energy and climate issues featured significantly yet again – a full list of which are posted here. In addition, a video has been posted online by London Assembly Green Party member Jenny Jones of her questions to the Mayor about a shortfall in his domestic energy efficiency programme RE:NEW.
And on that shortfall – Jenny Jones states that 95 per cent off the Mayor’s 1.7m home retrofit target has been missed with only 80,000 cavity and loft installations achieved out of a target set by the Mayor of 1.7 million. In response, the Mayor states:
- CO2 has reduced 14% since the programme began – in spite of London economic growth of 20%;
- London has significant challenges on insulation due to the low incidence of cavity wall homes and conservation areas;
- The Green Deal “wasn’t working well”
- To compensate he has recently introduced a London boiler scrappage scheme;
- After being called a “minnow” on London climate change action by Jenny Jones, when compared to other city leaders such as former New York Mayor Bloomberg and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Mayor responded that ‘he hasn’t been swanning off around the world on climate change junkets … to give good green sermons”
The Mayor’s 2011 Climate Change Mitigation and Energy Strategy actually states a 2015 target of retrofitting 1.2 million homes. And the June 2015 update to the Strategy sets out that “By the end of the 2013-14 financial year, over 100,000 homes were visited through the Mayor’s retrofit programmes. Coupled with wider market delivery, 500,000 home have been retrofitted across the capital”, this wider market delivery referring to the number of homes delivered through the Government’s ECO programme.
The disastrous cuts to ECO and failure of the Green Deal have dramatically reduced the effectiveness of the Mayor’s energy efficiency programme RE:NEW, a recent MQ stating that in “the 12 months from October 2014 RE:NEW supported the retrofit of over 4,500 homes.”
A lot depends on what is meant by retrofit: the initial phases of the RE:NEW programme visited homes on a specifically identified area basis, providing households with a number of free “easy measures”. These visits where meant to unlock additional, more significant, retrofit action in the visited households, such as the installation of loft, cavity or solid wall insulation. Follow up action by households was however fairly limited (only a few per cent) – as has been set out in the following research paper.
It’s clear from a recent MQ that the RE:NEW programme has been adversely impacted by the Government’s disastrous changes to its ECO programme, and the flawed nature of the Green Deal. The latest Government data shows that, despite the RE:NEW programme being in place to stimulate the uptake of energy efficiency in the capital, London still has the second lowest number of ECO measures installed (per 1,000 households) across UK regions.
Provisional number of households in receipt of ECO measures by region, up to 30th June 2015 (DECC spreadsheet)
25 December 2014: Hackney Gazette story on abseiling engineers providing insulation to a number of tower blocks in Tower Hamlets. Energy supplier EDF Energy is funding the work as part of their Energy Company Obligation (ECO) targets.
EDF state that this is one of the largest ECO projects they have worked on with a London borough with some 500 homes included in the scheme on the Bancroft, Avebury, St Stephen’s and Chicksand estates. Work is expected to be complete by March, 2016.
Tower Hamlets has set out its ambition to access ECO funding in its recent 2014/15 Sustainability Action Plan. This work has been planned for sometime now – details of which are set out in a 2013 approval paper from Tower Hamlets council here. Delays have been most likely been caused through the Government’s changes to the ECO programme which the Prime Minister ordered in December 2013 (to which many concerns were raised by practioners to a DECC blog on the ECO changes earlier this year (search for words ‘Brent’ and ‘London’ in blog)).
November 2014: A news report highlighting a new ‘Smart Homes’ retrofit Project which provides “homeowners in six North London boroughs access to upgrades that can help to significantly boost the sustainability of their properties…The year-long scheme will be the first of its kind in the UK, and aims to make it simpler and more affordable for residents to install insulation that will help to reduce their energy costs.”
Haringey Council’s website reveals that the project is one that was successfully awarded funding earlier this year under government’s Green Deal Communities Fund, details of which can be found in an earlier post here. The project focuses on solid wall insulation and on Victorian and Edwardian terraces where simple, cheap energy upgrades can be difficult because of the design of the older buildings. Residents in Haringey, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest are eligible for the scheme, which is designed see more than three quarters of work carried out by local traders. The scheme is open to both owner occupiers and landlords (or tenants with landlord consent) from the boroughs and is available up to 31st March 2015.
June 2014: The government announced a review of its ECO (Energy Company Obligation) programme in December 2013, against a backdrop of considerable media coverage, across many months, on the rising costs of consumers’ energy bills – all of which culminated in the Prime Minister’s alleged ‘cut the Green Crap‘ quote .
The ECO sets a legal obligation on energy suppliers to provide a reduction in carbon emissions through supporting the uptake of energy efficiency measures in the domestic sector. Each supplier (effectively the ‘Big 6’) has a specific target assigned to it by government depending on the number of domestic gas and electricity customers they supply. The ECO is paid for through a charge on all household energy bills – which is then collected by suppliers and is in turn used by them to help subsidise energy efficiency programmes – such as reduced cost insulation measures. Each household is estimated to pay around £50 a year to pay for ECO (approximately – it depends on the level of charge passed on by the supplier to their customer to meet the costs of their ECO target), which amounts to around £1.3bn a year total ECO spend. The proposals put forward in ECO consultation, with reductions in supplier target levels, and ‘stretching out’ of the targets to March 2017 (see below), are thought to reduce the cost of ECO to households by £30-35 ie a small reduction in energy bills (around 2% against an average energy bill of £1,300) – but also an overall reduction in the amount of money going to fund the government’s main efficiency programme. It should be noted that predecessor ‘supplier obligation’ programmes have operated in the UK since the mid-90s (EESoP, EEC, CERT, CESP) and have contributed significantly to helping improve the energy efficiency of UK homes (see section 6.13 of latest DCLG English Housing Survey report here).
Following the December press release, a consultation paper – the ‘Future of the ECO‘ – was released on 5 March, which closed for comments on April 16th. The consultation set out a wide number of proposals – of which the major ones were to:
- Extend the operation of ECO beyond the current March 2015 deadline to March 2017
- Set new targets for the three sub-obligation targets (CERO, CSCO and HHCRO)
- Reduce the major sub-target of the ECO – the Carbon Emissions Reduction Obligation (CERO) – target by 33 per cent.
The Mayor has posted his response to the government’s proposals highlighting a number of key concerns including that:
December 2013: This month the Mayor has been asked questions in relation to:
a debate on how the Mayor will look to address the number of excess winter deaths in London; the impact on London as a result of the Government’s redefinition of fuel poverty; the Mayor’s plans to help tackle fuel poverty (MQs referred to in this answer can be seen here 4251 and 3836); the long terms impacts of climate change; RE:NEW targets to 2015; the Mayor’s view on the recent ‘Green Crap‘ debate; the level of increase in London domestic energy bills over the past three years; funding to improve energy inefficient damp London housing; windfall tax on energy suppliers (see following for link to answer referenced); the energy costs to Londoners as a result of gas fracking; Canary Wharf waste heat offtake; details of the recent £5.6m DECC funding to tackle fuel poverty in London; promoting low cost low carbon energy supplies in London (also see the following MQ 4254); the impact to London as a result of the recent changes to ECO; supporting community-led energy projects such as Brixton Energy; the Mayor’s Low Carbon Entrepreneur competition; opportunities for the London Pension Fund Authority (LPFA) to invest in low carbon projects; thes costs of nuclear power (read Liberum Capital note referred to in question here); London’s top 500 energy-consuming buildings; Nuclear Power versus decentralised energy; the Mayor’s support for fracking and nuclear power; the Mayor’s ambition – as set out in his recent draft Housing Strategy to retrofit London’s “entire stock for improved energy performance by 2020″; the late publication of the RE:NEW evaluation report; the Mayor’s energy advisor visit to heat pump system at One New Change; the Mayor’s energy advisor visit to the Barkantine CHP system; the Mayor’s work with the Better Buildings Partnership; the Mayor’s energy advisor’s work with the C40; the Mayor’s energy advisor visit to Islington’s Bunhill CHP scheme; the Mayor’s energy advisor visit to the Olympic site CHP system; recent events the Mayor’s energy and environment advisor has spoken at; the Mayor’s view on Labour’s proposals for an energy price freeze; future funding for the RE:NEW support team; the Mayor’s comments on wind power; RE:NEW housing retrofit targets; the award-winning Bunhill CHP; the number of fuel poor households to be delivered by RE:NEW; London’s resilience to a nuclear power station radiation leak; fuel poverty advice given to callers to the Mayor’s Know Your Rights helpline; the impact on solid wall insulation as a result of changes to the ECO; tower block residents assisted under the RE:NEW programme;
Previous months questions to the Mayor can be found here.
December 2013: The Mayor’s recently released draft housing strategy states that “The capital also has some of the worst housing conditions in the country, thus prioritising estate based regeneration through improving the quality and energy efficiency of existing homes remains a key priority. To achieve this the Mayor will make available funding to ensure that by 2016 all council landlords will be in a position to independently resolve their Decent Homes backlog, and will support affordable housing providers to retrofit their entire stock for improved energy performance by 2020.”
Section 2.6 of the consultation paper directly addresses ‘Retrofitting and improving energy efficiency’ and provides some useful information on the Mayor’s ambitions for his flagship environmental programme, RE:NEW:
“To increase retrofit numbers under the government’s Energy Company Obligation (ECO) and Green Deal schemes, the RE:NEW programme has put in place measures to assist all large landlords in London to identify works that can be carried out to their stock, procure the works, access finance and manage contractors. This support will continue until at least 2016, maintaining the momentum for the successor ECO arrangements. The GLA is keen to expand retrofit activity on a more strategic area, or even whole borough, basis. The Green Deal also represents an innovative way to finance energy efficiency works which saves money for individual households. The Mayor will continue to promote the opportunities that the Green Deal offers to Londoners across all tenures. As Table 1 shows, the projected rate of delivery in London is therefore expected to increase significantly over the next three years. “
All of this may however change markedly following the Government’s recent announcement that it will scale back the level of support going to insulation through the ECO as well as significantly reduce the level of solid wall insulation (SWI) installations: the boost in support to SWI systems was often quoted by Government as being a huge advantage to the Mayor’s retrofit ambitions in London due to the high prevalence of solid wall homes here.
October 2013: Solid Wall Insulation (SWI) is critical in helping improve the energy efficiency of a large proportion of London’s homes and hence helpful that the GLA’s RE:NEW team have produced a short FAQ document on planning issues around the retrofit of External Wall Insulation (EWI).
The note highlights that a General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) was “clarified in regard to external wall insulation for single houses in technical guidance published by the Department for Communities and Local Government, in January 2013. It is stated that for the purposes of planning, external wall insulation is considered to be an ‘improvement’ rather than ‘development’, and, hence, does not require an applicant to make a planning application first to the local planning authority.”
Further information on the CLG planning order referenced above can be seen in an earlier post here. Further information on planning issues related to the roll-out of SWI in London can also be seen in this really helpful Future of London briefing note here.
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.
January 2013: Solid Wall Insulation’s (SWI) time has finally come and it is now the key technology to be supported in the Government’s annual £1.3 billion ECO domestic energy efficiency programme (which came into operation at the beginning of this year). However, a significant barrier to the roll out of SWI was potential planning difficulties householders could face when wishing to retrofit their homes with SWI.
So it was good to see a tweet from DECC Minister Greg Barker last week announcing that the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) – which sets the policy for planning – had issued new guidance which allows SWI to be fitted without planning approval.
No DECC or DCLG news release was issued, and it was left to BusinessGreen to explain the change. “The formal clarification confirms solid wall insulation – which is commonly fitted to the exterior of a building, potentially changing the look of a property – is classified as a “permitted development”, meaning property owners can undertake the work without specific planning permission.
“Listed buildings and properties in conservation areas will remain an exception to the rule and would require specific planning permission, but Barker predicted that planning issues would “not present a problem for the vast majority of people intending to put solid wall insulation on their houses”.
The clarification is made in the following Technical Guidance issued on the government’s planning portal website ‘Permitted development for householders‘ and the wording in the document which marks such a major change for the insulation industry is remarkably succinct:
“The installation of solid wall insulation constitutes an improvement rather than an enlargement or extension to the dwellinghouse [sic] and is not caught by the provisions of d(i) and d(ii).” [p13]
where d(i) to d(ii) set out limits and conditions to permitted development rights to the enlargement, improvement or other alteration of a house.
There is now a lot of activity around rolling out SWI in London including:
- a recently commissioned project by the GLA on the Green Deal which, along with other key issues, will also be looking at barriers to the uptake of SWI in London.
- Camden issued specific energy efficiency planning guidance for Dartmouth Park which specifically considers SWI – this is the first such suplementary planning guidance issued on SWI anywhere in the country
- Think tank Future of London issued a useful report earlier this year on planning issues related to the Green Deal in London, including SWI
- And a technology assessment paper by DECC on SWI has also been recently published, which mentioned the following issue in relation to London:
“A leading SWI installer recognised that in London there was no supplier stocking the full range of SWI materials required for jobs. Consequently, firms involved in one-off SWI jobs found it virtually impossible to source products at competitive rates. As a large contractor, the firm has worked hard to bulk purchase equipment for itself. Needing a warehouse for its own operations, it decided that it could help supply the sector at the same time.”
There’s still some way to go for SWI to make its impact in London. Even with permitted development rights, planning permission will be required in conservation areas and, as the Future of London report points out – there are around 600,000 homes in conservation areas in London, roughly half the national total and around 60 per cent of all homes in the capital are solid wall.
19 November 2012: The Insulation Industry Forum have issued a news release stating that “a coalition representing over 70% of the UK’s £700m insulation industry has warned that 625 jobs in the insulation industry are under threat in London in 2013, with job losses starting this Winter.”
This situation arises as a result of changes being made to the Government’s home energy efficiency programme, moving from the existing CERT scheme, to the new Energy Company Obligation (ECO) and the Green Deal from the beginning of 2013. The IIF state that:
“The losses come from the gap between the ending of the existing subsidy schemes for cavity wall solid wall and loft insulation, and the Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation (ECO) becoming fully functional. This will seriously impact on the continuity of work and number of cavity wall, loft insulation and solid wall jobs undertaken from the 1 January 2013. As a result of the gap, 625 jobs will go in London in 2013.”
As detailed in a number of previous posts, London has missed out from energy supplier CERT funds (and its predecessor programmes) over the last decade (clearly shown in slide 2 of a recent GLA presentation on the ‘History of Attracting CERT’ here). There are still significant numbers of lofts and cavity walls to be insulated in the capital. However, the new ECO and Green Deal programmes will remove the market stimulation programmes for loft and cavity insulation – apart from those households who fall within a subset of ECO – the Carbon Saving Communities Obligation (CSCO) areas.
At the Local Government Association’s Green Deal conference held in London last Friday, a presentation from East London based organisation Otesha highlighted that programmes they had initiated to help get young unemployed people trained in the insulation sector, as part of their ‘green jobs’ initiative, where stalling as a result of insulation companies losing contracts because of the change in Government programmes.
October 2012: This month the Mayor has been asked questions in relation to:
a London-specific target under the Government’s forthcoming Energy Company Obligation (ECO) programme; progressing in achieving the Mayor’s Hydrogen Powered Vehicles strategy; the provision of energy efficiency support to SMEs in London; work being undertaken under the Mayor’s Decentralised Energy Project Delivery Unit; support for Cooperative Renewable Energy projects; how London will benefit under Energy Company Obligation (ECO); a list of all current Decentralised Energy projects supported; the roll out of the Green Deal in London; work to support the support the non-domestic Green Deal programme in London; the scale of the Mayor’s Green Deal programme in London; Guidance on low carbon cooling systems; low/zero carbon measures secured through the GLA’s planning process; GLA review of the potential for low and zero carbon microgeneration technologies; future carbon emissions related to new infrastructure projects; work by the GLA with ICLEI, C40 and Eurocities on climate mitigation and adapation; and update on Low Carbon Skills Forum; planned budgets for future carbon mitigation programmes; carbon savings achieved by the Mayor’s programmes; the success of the Feed in Tariff (FIT) programme in London; an update on the London Thames Gateway Heat Network; the publication date of the Mayor’s Technical Guide for District Heating; and progress on the development of district heating commercial templates and a London Heat Charter. Planning guidance on sustainable design and construction; progress under the RE:FIT programme; targets under the RE:NEW 2 programme; annual progress report on the Mayor’s climate programme; an update on the London greenhouse gas inventory (LEGGI). Publication of the London Environment Strategy (see here for the answer referred to); the number of Solid Wall Insulation companies in London; Mayoral action on tackling Fuel Poverty; energy efficiency of new homes in the Olympic park; proposal for a zero carbon development around the Olympic site; energy consumption of superfast broadband; and future plans for Edmonton incinerator.
A series of questions (below) were asked in relation to RE:NEW – all of which were directed to a question asked earlier this year pointing to the November 2012 publication of the evaluation of the RE:NEW programme.
How many pensioner households treated under the RE:NEW programme; number of solid wall homes treated under RE:NEW; fuel poor households treated under RE:NEW; flats treatedunder RE:NEW; private rented homes treated under RE:NEW; the number of solid wall installations undertaken under RE:NEW; the number of cavity wall insulation installations undertaken under RE:NEW; the number of loft insulation installations under RE:NEW; the number of benefit checks undertaken through RE:NEW; and how RE:NEW has helped drive up the CERT and Warm Front programmes in London.
Previous questions to the Mayor can be found here.
September 2012: Camden have published new guidance for home owners in Dartmouth Park who want to make changes to improve the efficiency of their homes. Camden says that the “guidance shows that historic homes of the types found in Camden’s conservation areas can be made more energy efficient, often through relatively minor and easy changes, and still retain their special character and appearance. Where major energy efficiency measures are required, the guidance sets out how and where these are likely to be acceptable”.
Dartmouth Park Conservation Area is largely typified by houses with solid brick external walls, without a cavity. In terms of the forthcoming Green Deal and ECO, both of which strongly support the greater use of solid wall insulation (SWI) the guidance sets out that ‘External Wall Insulation’ (EWI) proposals will need planning permission, but approval is not needed for Internal Wall Insulation (IWI). For EWI the guidance goes on to say[p16] that:
- “It [EWI] will rarely be acceptable on the front elevation of a building unless render already exists as part of the building’s original design.”
- It may be acceptable on the side elevation of a building depending on the prominence of this elevation and the presence of architectural features.
- Many rear elevations are visible from the street due to long views along the rear of terraces and an approach which preserves these views will be expected. This will usually mean that external insulation to the garden level will be acceptable, but not upper storeys.
A comprehensive street-by-street breakdown of what will be acceptable in terms of energy efficiency improvements is then provided (!) and pages 33-36 provide further guidance on specific aspects of EWI.