Win contracts to devise blueprint for low carbon social housing refits

Published:  24 September, 2009

SWINDON: Over 180 organisations from across the UK, including housing associations, construction companies and local councils, have won contracts to devise plans for ‘low carbon refits’ of existing low-rise social housing that will meet UK government target reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and energy use.

The £3.5m Retrofit for the Future competition, run by the government-backed Technology Strategy Board, will award contracts for each feasibility project, enabling the successful companies, 70% of which are small to medium-sized businesses, to work with suppliers to devise solutions geared towards making deep cuts in the carbon emissions produced by social housing.

In all, the Technology Strategy Board has earmarked up to £16m for Retrofit for the Future projects that will be delivered in two phases, with this initial competition call constituting Phase 1 of the overall project.

Iain Gray, chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board said: “Housing in the UK accounts for 27% of carbon emissions and more than 60% of the houses that we will be living in by 2050 have already been built. To meet the UK’s target of an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050, we must dramatically improve the performance of our existing housing stock.

“The social housing sector includes over 4.5 million homes and the challenge is to come up with innovative and well tested solutions so that when these buildings are refurbished, they are done so in a sustainable manner that is sure to make significant cuts in carbon emissions. “

“This is an opportunity to ‘kick-start’ the social housing retrofit market by connecting the organisations that will be refitting housing, such as social landlords and local councils, with innovative and capable suppliers so that together they can develop a range of high performance and cost effective solutions.”

From these initial feasibility studies, up to 100 proposals will be invited into a second phase where the most promising designs are taken through to real builds, culminating in the retrofit and monitoring of up to 100 ‘demonstrator’ houses in early 2010. The initial feasibility contracts will be worth up to £20 000 and subsequent build contracts up to £150 000.

The competition is being run through the Technology Strategy Board’s Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), a procurement scheme to encourage small businesses to engage with government departments.

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