INSULATING SOMERSET WEBINAR, 10TH MARCH 2022

APOLOGY:  Our recording is only of the second half of the webinar.

WEBINAR RECORDING LINK

1. Somerset Retrofit Accelerator

Presenter: Cara Naden (Somerset CAN, South Somerset District Council, Somerset Retrofit Accelerator Steering Group).  Cara.Naden@SouthSomerset.Gov.Uk

Please click on THIS LINK for presentation slides.

The Somerset Retrofit Accelerator project is a partnership between Frome, Bruton and Glastonbury Town Councils, the four District Councils in Somerset, Somerset Independence Plus and the Centre for Sustainable Energy. The six-month pilot project is funded by the UK Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund.

The project aims to develop the supply chain for low carbon, whole house retrofit of homes in Somerset through:

  • 50 discounted Home Retrofit plans for Somerset households in partnership with Futureproof
  • 30 paid places on the Futureproof Essentials course for local construction professionals
  • Creating new online resources through a Green Directory for Somerset
  • Showcasing low carbon homes through virtual online tours

All homeowners who have made energy efficiency improvements to their home, please share your experiences with others through a series of online open homes events.  This is the best way to spread the word.

Please sign up here: https://forms.office.com/r/TxpUCtby5x

2. Retrofit Bruton & Cary

Presenter: James Hood (Bruton Town Council, Retrofit Bruton & Cary) Jameshood@brutontowncouncil.gov.uk https://retrofit.brutontown.com

Please click on THIS LINK for presentation slides

Offer of whole house retrofit assessment extends to Castle Cary, Bruton and all the neighbouring parishes.  

If you don’t live in one of these parishes please see the following websites to book an assessment:

https://www.trustmark.org.uk/homeowners/whole-house-retrofit
https://retrofitacademy.org/retrofit-coordinator

To apply for the discounted retrofit plan please go to https://www.futureproof.uk.net

To submit your home for the open green homes please go to https://forms.office.com/r/TxpUCtby5x

3. Avalon Community Fund

Presenter Maddy Milnes (Avalon Community Energy)

communitybenefit@avaloncommunityenergy.org.uk

Avalon Community Energy have been providing a community fund, which amongst other things, can help people with money towards making their homes more energy efficient.  So far beneficiaries are mostly from the Mendip/ Avalon area but the grant could conceivably be opened up to all Somerset residents.

4. Warmer Wedmore

Presenter Steve Mewes (Somerset CAN, Green Wedmore) stevemewes415@gmail.com

Please click on THIS LINK for presentation slides

Warmer Wedmore have been helping local people in Wedmore to have more energy efficient homes. 

There are some exciting things in the pipeline like a potential collaboration between Wedmore Parish Council, Green Wedmore and our local housing associations using Community Infrastructure Levy owed to the village towards a large retrofit programme for local social housing.

5. Bradfords Building Sustainable Communities

Presenter, Giles Bradford (Bradfords Building Merchants)

gilesbradford@bradfords.co.uk

  • working with the Retrofit Academy (Devon) – they may be similar to Future Proof, the organisation that the Somerset retrofit projects are working with.
  • working with Weston College and Bridgwater & Taunton College to bring sustainable building practices into their building courses and to move away from the very traditional building mindset which is generally being taught.
  • running biannual workshops on building sustainable communities which focus on materials, tradesmen, DIY advice & available grants.  Next event in May   Somerset County Cricket Club in Taunton but also being streamed online.  
  • As an indication of scale, to meet the 2050 target, Bradfords would need to supply materials for 2 whole houses for every branch they have every single day between now and 2050.  Effectively 88 houses per day. Which is huge and clearly impossible given the number of tradesmen.
  • Echoed James Hood’s comments that tradesmen don’t feel there is a market for retrofit and so are continuing with traditional practices.  However, it’s really exciting for them to be connected to Somerset CAN and see that is not the case.  They are committed to influencing and changing the mindset of tradesmen and helping with skills gaps.
  • Therefore they are not only working with Trustmark and MCS to come up with solutions but also keen to collaborate Somerset CAN and the retrofit projects.
  • Will be co-sponsoring various stands and giving talks at an event in Honiton on April 2nd with Honiton council and Trustmark.  They are keen to build a template from this to transfer to events here in Somerset in collaboration with Somerset Retrofit Accelerator.  Will host events wherever they have branches.  Again focussing on materials, tradesmen, DIY advice and available grants.  These events are aimed at supporting local communities in our region around how they go about making their homes more energy efficient, cheaper to run and better for the planet.  
  • Working with Renewable Energy Solutions who are MCS certified. RES is their renewables partner.  Any enquiries we get about air source, ground source, battery walls, EV chargers, solar and so on go to them.  They are MCS accredited and are in conversation with Trustmark about the concept of MCS umbrellas to resolve the issues surrounding accredited installations and therefore opening up the grants available to more people.

Useful links www.bradfords.co.uk/buildingsustainablecommunities, www.bradfordssustainability.co.uk

6. TrustMark 

Not for profit govt. endorsed quality scheme for work carried out in or around your home.

Presenter Phil Mason www.trustmark.org

TrustMark is looking at the issue of how local tradesmen, who are already competent and capable of doing quality, sustainable work, but who may not be able or may not want to engage in the with PAS 2030 certification required so that residents who employ their services can tap into the grants available where certification is required.  Many tradespeople are more than COMPETENT to carry out retrofit work, but are not certificated to PAS 2030 and are thus ineligible to deliver under some of some of the public funded schemes.   TrustMark is therefore looking at the possibility of an umbrella system of checks as a solution to this issue.

Fishwick near Preston is an historic example of how retrofit can go wrong and was one of the drivers for the development of PAS 2035 so that the right measures go into the right homes, in the right sequence and to the right quality.  (see https://passivehouseplus.ie/news/health/disastrous-preston-retrofit-scheme-remains-unresolved)

7. West Somerset Together

Presenter Hester Watson hestertavens@yahoo.co.uk 

Discussing the various issues encountered when trying to help local Somerset residents make their homes more energy efficient as well as issues of accessing grants available.

  • The vast majority of folk are keen to get better insulation. However, they don’t know HOW.
  • The assumption is generally made that you will employ a builder.  Many can’t afford one.  In fact many wouldn’t have enough money to even prioritise a retrofit assessment
  • Need some impartial advice on the different products available – which ones are better for which situations, which ones are more energy efficient, as well as some actual DIY advice from impartial experts on how to install them.  Hopefully this will be covered in the collaboration between SRA, Bradfords and Green Directory.
  • Most installers connected with the various schemes which have come and gone generally work to a very narrow agenda – loft insulation, cavity walls and gas central heating.
  • Many of the houses in Somerset simply aren’t the right type of house to be able to access the grants available – e.g. no cavity walls to be able to install cavity insulation, inaccessible lofts and no gas supply.
  • The Heat project/LADs assessor suggested on the phone that she use a local builder as they are cheaper than the ones used by schemes.  However, they don’t necessarily have enough expertise, especially as products etc are changing.  How does anyone know who best to choose? Are they aware of EPCs and the need to provide evidence of work done, and the same applies to DIY. 
  • It has also been suggested by installers that if you already have 4” of loft insulation, they will not increase the depth to required standards because they don’t do that.  Wall insulation is not available for properties heated by oil.
  • The conversations mentioned earlier around getting quality local tradesmen registered under one umbrella to avoid any cost to them will certainly help enormously in opening up the accessibility of grants to local people.
  • Would like to see different schemes for different levels of folk, e.g. one for people with little money but who are capable, another for people with little money or capability (elderly/ disabled). 
  • Many tenants are terrified of mentioning that their home needs work in case they get evicted.
  • Listed buildings which are not of standard design are too difficult, so many of our low EPC homes may not get help with improvements.  [Cerys Dehaini, architect, mentions that it is possible to do improvements to listed buildings but it is more difficult and requires more investment. She would be really pleased to invite a sub-group discussion targeted at exploring ways to support energy retrofit in difficult scenarios – i.e. traditional and listed buildings and those in conservation areas. Cerys@squirrelsarchitecture.co.uk]. Also see advice from Historic England (link below)
  • How to get DIY work included in an EPC? – Hester has seen very nice houses where the insulation is not recognized because of lack of evidence.
  • Would like to see advice made available to everyone – regardless of whether they have money.  Those without money should also be able to access a retrofit assessment. 
  • The schemes themselves need to last longer
  • EPCs in general are an issue  

We all need to lobby our MPs on this.  The SAP software behind EPCs is due to be upgraded – but stalled due to the Grenfell case apparently.

Other useful links

https://www.trustmark.org.uk/homeowners/home-improvement-government-schemes

https://www.greenregister.org.uk

Centre for Sustainable Energy CSE https://www.cse.org.uk/

Tips and grants for energy efficiency https://www.southsomersetenvironment.co.uk/energysavingtips

https://historicengland.org.uk/advice/technical-advice/energy-efficiency-and-historic-buildings/

https://retrofitacademy.org/what-is-pas-2035/

Other notes from the chat:

Cara Nadan: The UK government has now confirmed that gas boilers will be banned from new housing in 2025, and households will no longer be able to buy gas boilers from 2035

Dixie Darch: SWATs Net Zero Toolkit will be in the public domain soon. Thanks for raising it, Dave M.

Dave Mansell: NZ Carbon Toolkit – https://www.cotswold.gov.uk/media/05couqdd/net-zero-carbon-toolkit.pdf

LETI retrofit – https://www.leti.london/retrofit

Giles Bradford: The government issued their Heat and Building Strategy in October.  In there it lays out the road map to elimination of fossil fuel heat systems.  And thankfully recognises that often ASHP is not necessarily the solution (in older homes).  The key thing tho’, is that if you have a gas or oil boiler, in most cases the lowest carbon footprint you can achieve is to use that system to end of life, as opposed to replacing it early with a low carbon system: the low carbon system has embodied carbon from it’s manufacture that most often exceeds the emissions of an existing installed system.

Maddy – ACE:  Does anyone know how the Heat Somerset has done.  I understand over 100 houses were going to benefit from this initiative.

Cara Naden: https://beta.bathnes.gov.uk/policy-and-documents-library/energy-efficiency-retrofitting-and-sustainable-construction-spdZero Carbon Britain https://cat.org.uk/info-resources/zero-carbon-britain/

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