Low-rise social housing gets greened up

Over 180 organisations from across the UK have won contracts to devise innovative plans for ‘low carbon refits’ of existing low-rise social housing.

The organisations include housing associations, construction companies and local councils. The green refits are expected to meet UK government target reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and energy use.

The £3.5m Retrofit for the Future competition, run by the government-backed Technology Strategy Board, will award contracts for each feasibility project, enabling the successful companies to work with suppliers to devise solutions geared towards making deep cuts in the carbon emissions produced by social housing.

The Technology Strategy Board has earmarked up to £16m for Retrofit for the Future projects that will be delivered in two phases, with this initial competition call constituting Phase 1 of the overall project.

Iain Gray, chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said: “Housing in the UK accounts for 27% of carbon emissions and more than 60% of the houses that we will be living in by 2050 have already been built. We must dramatically improve the performance of our existing housing stock and this is an opportunity to ‘kick-start’ the social housing retrofit market by connecting the organisations that will be refitting housing, such as social landlords and local councils, with innovative and capable suppliers. Together they can develop a range of high performance and cost effective solutions.”

From these initial feasibility studies, up to 100 proposals will be invited into a second phase where the most promising designs are taken through to real builds, culminating in the retrofit and monitoring of up to 100 ‘demonstrator’ houses in early 2010. The initial feasibility contracts will be worth up to £20,000 and subsequent build contracts up to £150,000.

The competition is being run through the Technology Strategy Board’s Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), a procurement scheme to encourage small businesses to engage with government departments.