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Energy Efficiency Is For Everyone

Posted on 1st October 2014 in Getting Efficient

Abertay Housing Association

The term ‘energy efficient’ tends, nowadays, to be associated with technological advances and political gestures – but it’s important to remember that ‘sustainability’ really boils down to creating a better future for everyone. That philosophy is the driving force behind many of our projects at GoSustainable – and at the Dryburgh Gardens sheltered housing scheme in Dundee, we had the perfect opportunity to turn our words into actions.

More Than Just a Home

Dryburgh Gardens, on Dundee’s north side, comprises 4 tower blocks and over 80 properties owned by Abertay Housing Association. The majority of the tenants are elderly and retired and, as such, the scheme represents more than just a home for them but a community – with organised activities and events taking place regularly and a range of nearby services including shops, a social centre and a post office.

Energy Efficiency Is For EveryoneThe ‘No Fines’ construction of Dryburgh Gardens presented challenges – especially in terms of its energy efficiency. Abertay Housing Association recently embarked upon a £3.5 million development initiative to deliver a wide range of property improvements to the scheme and bring it up to 21st century standards. As part of that initiative, they contacted us to both assess potential efficiency measures which could be effective for the housing scheme – and implement them.

For us, the project was an opportunity to demonstrate how sustainability can improve lives. The residents of Dryburgh Gardens are exactly the kind of people who stand to benefit most from energy efficiency measures: the elderly are particularly vulnerable to home heat loss, which can cause a range of health problems and, of course, raise monthly bills.

The Right Kind of Energy Efficiency

Our assessment of Dryburgh Gardens involved a chartered surveyor’s report and a full technical survey. The results were conclusive: a range of internal wall insulation measures would substantially improve energy efficiency, saving the scheme hundreds of pounds per year and keeping its residents warm. Internal wall insulation has been instrumental in combating fuel poverty across Britain and our calculations revealed that, over their lifetime, the materials we intended to install would reduce carbon emissions in each Dryburgh Gardens property by around 76 tonnes. Across the entire housing scheme, this amounted to an approximate reduction of 6,200 tonnes of carbon.

Our expertise in identifying funding sources for large-scale projects also came into play and we turned to the Energy Company Obligation: a government scheme designed to help low-income houses install, amongst other measures, internal wall insulation. The application was successful: we were able to optimise funding for the client through our in-depth understanding of ECO.

Challenges

With assessment complete and funding secured, our focus turned to the specific challenges of working at Dryburgh Gardens. Like any project, we wanted to minimise disruption by carrying out our work as quickly as possible. While the Dryburgh Gardens development initiative would eventually see each property fitted with new kitchens, bathrooms, boilers and double-glazing, we were tasked with installing the following insulation measures:

Upon commencement of work, our first task was to prepare the walls of each property by removing all existing external wall linings down to the building substrate. Cold ‘bridging’ – the transmission of cold air across weak insulation spots – was a risk in the flats, so we cut back the ceiling and floor by 600mm around their perimeters to ensure the new insulation materials could be fitted in a way which blocked this type of heat loss.

With the properties prepped, we installed Kingspan K18 wall panels on a timber batten frame against all external walls. After this, we covered the 600mm ceiling perimeter with Kingspan K10 boarding and did the same to the 600mm floor perimeter with 50mm Knauf Dri-Therm. On internal partition walls, we installed Kingspan K18 – to ensure each room in the property experienced the best possible levels of insulation.

Simple Measures, Significant Results

Improving Dryburgh Gardens’ energy efficiency may have been a relatively straightforward project, but its results have been significant. While work continues across the scheme, the flats we have completed so far have seen their Energy Efficiency Rating and their Environmental Impact Rating (which gauges C02 emissions) rise significantly. The on-going work at Dryburgh Gardens will ensure the housing scheme meets its obligations to both the Scottish Housing Quality Standard, and the Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing (EESSH).

In fact, the EESH is particularly relevant to Dryburgh Gardens since it aims to help housing schemes reduce their energy consumption, eliminate fuel poverty and, most importantly, contribute to the global effort to combat climate change. The new insulation measures mean more than just a statistical boost to the Dryburgh Gardens residents – who are now paying less money to heat their homes, have had the appearance of their flats enhanced and seen the spirit of their community refreshed. While technology and politics help us do our job, the philosophy of sustainability is inclusive – and the success of this project demonstrates that everyone can be a part of a new era of clean, simple energy efficiency.