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Building Futures award success

Kevin Snow27th November 2013

An innovative scheme to improve the energy efficiency and appearance of a local housing estate has led to a partnership project between Three Rivers District Council, Watford Borough Council and Watford Community Housing Trust winning a prestigious award.Representatives from Three Rivers and Watford Councils together with the Housing Trust at the Building Futures awards ceremony 

The Building Futures Awards judges recognised that the project could help save Boundary Way residents almost £500 a year in energy costs at the biennial countywide awards held on Thursday 21 November. The awards celebrate the best of sustainable design and construction in Hertfordshire.

The partnership picked up the award for the work being undertaken on the estate in the Outstanding Commitment to Adapt to a Changing Climate category.

The project to externally insulate over 100 homes on the estate, is split between two council areas and includes a mix of Trust and privately owned properties. Houses built between 1920 and 1990 often have cavity walls which can be easily insulated with cavity wall insulation. Older properties and some with different construction, such as Boundary Way, are harder to insulate, and this is where external wall insulation can be beneficial.

External insulation work involves applying insulation to the outside walls of each property, which can then be clad in a number of different finishes. The residents were offered a range of different brick finishes and choices of coloured renders. As well as saving residents money the insulation has rejuvenated the appearance of the properties.

Leader of Three Rivers District Council, Councillor Ann Shaw said:

"This project has made a big difference to the homes on the estate and is already helping the residents save money on their energy bills. It is great news that the project has been recognised through this award."

Elected Mayor of Watford, Dorothy Thornhill said:

“I am over the moon that this important project has been recognised by the Building Futures judges.

“The Boundary Way estate was built in the 1970’s and has not had any improvement works since. Some residents have been finding it increasingly difficult to heat their homes. Residents can now enjoy a smart new finish to their properties with the added comfort of reduced energy costs.”

Tina Barnard, Chief Executive of Watford Community Housing Trust, said:

“We are very proud to lead this project which is making homes warmer, saving residents money and dramatically improving the appearance of Boundary Way. We feel the award is richly deserved.”

Dr. David Strong, Building Futures Awards Head Judge, said:

“The regeneration of the Boundary Way estate will deliver numerous benefits in terms of sustainability. From a social sustainability perspective there is likely to be a new sense of pride in the estate.

“From an economic perspective the external insulation will result in significantly lower heat loss and fuel bills. From an environmental sustainability perspective the insulation will reduce CO2 emissions whist giving the homes a new lease-of-life.”

The project has also seen the replacement of the estate’s street lighting with new LED fittings and daylight sensors to both improve lighting levels to the paths and reduce the amount of energy used.

The project was funded by a council led bid to secure a £327,000 share of £46 million from the Government to help reduce fuel poverty and boost energy efficiency in regions across the country. The remainder of the funds were obtained through the Energy Company Obligation, a scheme legally requiring energy companies to help improve the energy efficiency of their customers’ homes across the country, thereby cutting energy bills.

The partners also employed National Energy Action (NEA) to independently evaluate the project by using devices to record temperatures in the homes. NEA is a national charity which aims to eradicate fuel poverty and campaigns for greater investment in energy efficiency to help those who are poor and vulnerable. The use of this independent evaluation was commented on favourably by the competition judges.

Information and advice about saving energy is available at:

Green our Herts county website www.greenourherts.org.uk/

Green Deal 0300 111 3330.

Herts Help - energy saving and grants for vulnerable 0300 123 4044.