Sustainable Building Services (UK) deliver large-scale energy efficiency works
In 2015, Nottingham City Homes (NCH) appointed Sustainable Building Services (UK) Ltd (SBS) to install external wall insulation (EWI) to over 1,100 social and private housing properties in Nottingham. The work was procured by Nottingham City Homes (NCH) via the Efficiency East Midlands (EEM) solid wall insulation framework and the works awarded on the basis of its commitment to delivering quality, best value and social benefits within the local community - including the creation of local jobs.
Year: October 2015 to present (on going)
Approx Value: £10 million (3 phases)
Client: Nottingham City Homes (via EEM)
The project’s immediate challenge was the issue of planning permission. All the properties selected for treatment were made of solid brick and the local authority had concerns about whether the externally insulated homes would have any adverse impact upon each area’s character and appearance. Consequently, for several months prior to works commencing, representatives of SBS and leading EWI system designer, PermaRock Products Ltd worked closely with NCH, taking an active, collaborative role in design, detailing and planning meetings. By providing product samples, visualisations and other evidence, they demonstrated to local authority planners that the result would only enhance the quality and appearance of the housing stock. Planning consent was duly granted.
Taking a partnering approach with its supply chain also helped NCH to achieve greater cost certainty on the scheme, to agree the most cost-effective designs and detailing from the outset, and to apply a number of best practice techniques. Important elements included full resident engagement at every stage of the customer journey, using ECO funding to support works to social and private properties, and establishing pilot properties that demonstrated to local residents how the finished work would look. These 'show homes' also provided a venue for resident liaison and a refuge for people to visit while their own houses were being treated.
The scheme itself was divided into three distinct phases and areas, and incorporated over 20 different property archetypes. Phase 1 focused on over 375 NCH properties in the Lenton Abbey area, all made of solid brick but comprising a mix of semi-detached, mid-terrace and end-terrace houses. In addition, the same energy-saving works were promoted to homeowners and installed to over 100 private properties in the area. Phase 2 focused on 125 NCH properties in Sneinton and the third phase entails treating over 500 NCH solid brick properties in Aspley and the promotion of works to homeowners and landlords in the area.
The EWI system selected for the work was PermaRock's UKAS BRE Accredited EPS-Premium System with SiliconeUltra K and Brick Slip Finishes.
Aware that effective resident liaison was key to achieving timely completions, SBS appointed three Resident Liaison Officers (RLO) from within the local community and one Private RLO to maintain dialogue with homeowners. They soon developed an easy rapport with residents and their contributions have proved invaluable.
Together, SBS and PermaRock set up a bespoke facility to provide operatives, local apprentices, NCH and other stakeholders with high quality, project-specific training. To date, more than 300 operatives and personnel have undertaken training through the facility. To maintain both quality and progress, SBS site managers make routine inspections and utilise a system of key ‘quality holding points’ that require inspection and sign-off before work can continue. Uniquely, SBS also benefit from ongoing quality inspections by on-site, full-time PermaRock system technicians on the scheme. These measures, together with real-time cloud-based inspection reporting, ensure strict adherence to the specification, and keep the client fully informed throughout.
Whilst work was progressing for NCH, SBS also developed a productive relationship with the local energy and sustainability hub, Nottingham Energy Partnership (NEP), to help generate interest from private homeowners. The mix of ECO and Green Deal Communities funding made the prospect of EWI installation very attractive to many of them, as did the economies resulting from the fact that SBS staff, materials and equipment were already present in the neighbourhood.
To date, over 100 private homeowners and landlords have been able to take advantage of the subsidised works.
Residents greatly appreciated the efforts of the RLOs and other staff to maintain good communications. One noted: “I was given lots of information, so I was able to stay with friends for a day when the drilling was done.”
Residents also found that the EWI system produced an immediate improvement in their properties’ warmth. One said: “We noticed the difference straight away and we have the heating on much less now. When we do turn it on, it only needs to be on for a few hours. As well as making the house warmer, the cladding on the outside looks fantastic; our house now looks really smart. The communication from the team was great and we knew what was happening every step of the way. I really can’t praise the team enough for their hard work and customer service.”
To date, work has proceeded at a fast pace and NCH and private properties have been completed on schedule. KPI data has showed consistent ‘excellent’ customer satisfaction scores. As a result, thousands of local residents are now enjoying better living conditions, improved energy efficiency levels and appreciable annual savings on their energy bills.
The work has also created substantial training and employment opportunities for local people. SBS has achieved this through the use of local labour for the site management team, sub-contractors and operatives. To service the contract, it established a local warehousing and distribution hub, and separate offices, which again created more jobs within the community. It also worked closely with the Nottingham Employment Hub to generate local apprenticeships - thereby further enhancing the scheme’s contribution to local training and employment.
Ultimately, more than 35% of the workforce on the scheme was based within 10 miles of the centre of Nottingham.
Speaking on behalf of Nottingham City Homes, Leanne Edmond said: “SBS and PermaRock have provided NCH with an outstanding delivery model that focuses strongly on quality. The collaboration with PermaRock ensures that the technical installation is of the highest standard possible and their self-motivation to exceed expectations and delivery KPI targets is a credit to both companies. There have been significant issues presented in the delivery of our scheme that SBS have taken ownership of and resolved with ease and little direction from the client. The performance to date is excellent and both customer and client satisfaction is high.”
During the works, the project was visited and presented as an example of best practice to inspectors from the Department of Energy & Climate Change as part of their industry investigations for the Bonfield Review (also known as 'Every Home Matters.')