SBS were awarded the role of principle contractor to oversee a variety of trades and subcontractors associated with the installation of external wall insulation (EWI) to over 1,100 private and social housing properties. The work was procured by Nottingham City Homes (NCH) via the Efficiency East Midlands (EEM) solid wall insulation framework. SBS undertook to deliver best value and social benefits within the local community - including the creation of local jobs. The project’s immediate challenge was the issue of planning permission.
All the properties selected for treatment were made of solid brick
SBS and the EWI system designer, PermaRock Products worked closely with NCH, taking an active, collaborative role in design, detailing and planning Providing product samples, visualisations and other evidence, they demonstrated to local authority planners how the work would enhance the quality and appearance of the housing stock.
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 residents could then visit - either to seek refuge from ongoing works to their own homes or to see how the finished work would look.
The scheme itself was divided into three distinct phases and incorporated over 30 different property archetypes. Phase 1 focused on 355 properties in the Lenton Abbey area, all made of solid brick but comprising a mix of semi-detached, mid-terrace and end-terrace houses. The same energy-saving works were promoted to private residents in the area. Phase 2 focused on 135 NCH properties in Sneinton and the third phase entailed treating 560 solid brick properties in Aspley.
The contractor appointed three Resident Liaison Officers (RLO) from within the local community and one Private RLO to maintain dialogue with homeowners. In all, more than 375 operatives underwent training through a facility provided by the contractor and system designer.
Whilst work was progressing for NCH, SBS also developed a productive relationship with Nottingham Energy Partnership (NEP). Working together, SBS, NCH and NEP made strenuous efforts to promote the benefits of the scheme/funding to private homeowners, and hosted a series of community marketing events with PermaRock. NEP undertook Green Deal assessments, issued EPCs and took initial deposits. All partners used cloud-computing to share funding data and progress reports. Delivery was overseen by E.ON’s full-time inspector who shared office space with SBS, PermaRock and NCH’s project liaison officer.
The Rockwool stone wool insulation, available in thicknesses from 50 mm to 250 mm, is adhesively bonded and mechanically anchored to the substrate, avoiding the formation of a cavity and reducing the risk of thermal bypass. The reinforced render system is applied directly over the insulation and is additionally anchored through to the substrate to ensure resistance to wind action and stability in the event of fire.
The use of ECO and Green Deal Communities funding made the prospect of EWI installation very attractive to many private residents, as did the economies resulting from the fact that SBS staff, materials and equipment were already present in the neighbourhood. In all 105 homeowners and their families were able to take advantage of the subsidised works. Residents’ Verdicts: 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: “I noticed the house was warmer as soon as the boards went up.” Another remarked: “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 smart.
All NCH properties were completed on budget, three months ahead of schedule.
As a result of the works, thousands of local residents now enjoy better living conditions, improved energy efficiency and appreciable annual savings on their energy bills. The work also created substantial training and employment opportunities for local people. collaboration and the maintenance of “the highest quality standards” by the project partners.