Shortlist of five teams sees contractors partner with energy companies in West Midlands

Contractors Willmott Dixon, Bullock Construction and Enterprise are on the shortlist for a £1.45bn public sector retrofitting contract covering homes and council buildings.

The three are among five teams bidding to provide energy efficiency retrofitting services in and around Birmingham in partnership with Birmingham council and 36 other local authorities, housing associations and other public sector bodies.

Willmott Dixon is bidding in a consortium with 10 other specialist firms, while Bullock Construction is working with energy provider E.ON. Enterprise is rumoured to also be working with a big energy firm.

Building understands contractor Carillion is also bidding for the job.

The scheme, called Birmingham Energy Savers, will be rolled out in two stages. The first pathfinder stage will run until autumn 2015 and see a total investment of £376m in upgrading homes and council buildings.

The local authorities involved will then recoup investment from government schemes such as the Green Deal and the Energy Company Obligation, which are due to launch in October.

There will then be a bigger roll out of Birmingham Energy Savers over the following five years worth £1.07bn.

Rob Lambe, managing director of Willmott Dixon Energy Services and Re-thinking, said the firm saw working with the public sector as the key to unlocking the potential of the government’s Green Deal.  

“People are not currently inclined to spend money on energy efficiency on properties,” he said. “There are lots of barriers to the Green Deal such as confidence and trust and people’s preparedness to spend the time and disruption [on it}.”

He added: “Using the local authorities as the vehicle for the confidence aspect will be critical.”

Contractors to the Birmingham scheme will be expected to offer warrantees for the energy efficiency measures introduced.

Lambe said this brought greater levels of risk and required more expertise than had previously been needed for retrofit schemes, which gave greater opportunities to specialist contractors with energy management experience.

Lambe said he was not worried about the 93% decline in the number of cavity wall and loft insulation installations anticipated under the Green Deal, which Building revealed earlier this month.

“Solid wall insulation is where the growth is,” said Lambe. “It’s a much more demanding technical activity.”