NetZero Collective continues momentum with two new contract wins in Q1

NetZero Collective has been awarded two new contracts, with Sanctuary and Welsh landlord Hafod.

The contracts will progress decarbonisation efforts on over 5,600 homes across England and Wales.

Welsh housing association, Hafod, has enlisted NetZero Collective to support its decarbonisation journey and an ambitious future upgrade of 5,000 homes across Wales.

Hafod provides high-quality affordable homes, and housing to help people live independently, plus care services across nine local authorities in Wales.

NetZero Collective has been awarded the £200,000 consultancy contract as part of Hafod’s wider decarbonisation plan which aims to ensure that all its homes, including existing properties, achieve at least an EPC Rating of C by the government target date of 2029.

This contract cements the existing partnership between NetZero Collective and Hafod, following NetZero Collective’s support with the landlord’s grant applications.

Over the border in the North West of England, Sanctuary has awarded NetZero Collective a one-year contract for retrofit surveys, assessments, and installation of measures for over 500 homes. This work is to part-deliver Sanctuary’s aim of improving more than 2,000 homes to EPC Band C under the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund Wave 2.1, for which they have received £12.5m in grant funding.

NetZero Collective secured both contracts via direct award from the Greener Futures Partnership (GFP) Decarbonisation Delivery framework, managed by Pretium Frameworks Ltd.

The framework, launched last year, provides retrofit and professional consultancy services to support the delivery of decarbonisation works. It was developed with the GFP, a collective of five like-minded housing associations – Abri, Anchor, Home Group, Hyde Group and Sanctuary – which was set up in 2021, as its members believed that a joint effort would be more effective in helping the social housing sector seriously address the green agenda.

Neil Waite, Director at NetZero Collective, said; “We are delighted to have started two new contracts that will help drive forward Hafod and Sanctuary’s decarbonisation ambitions. We’re looking forward to bringing in NetZero Collective’s skills and expertise to support these organisations’ retrofit plans.

“It’s great to see both Hafod and Sanctuary prioritising sustainability but also the health, happiness, and wellbeing of everyone who lives in their homes. Along with being better for the environment, these upgrades will ultimately increase the warmth of people’s homes and reduce their energy bills.”

Sarah Hancock, Hafod’s Head of Assets, said: “At Hafod, we’re committed to achieving net-zero by 2036, and decarbonising our existing homes is a critical aspect of this journey. We recognise that achieving net zero carbon is a huge undertaking and we’re delighted to be able to partner with NetZero Collective to help us achieve this.

“As a socially responsible business focused on making lives better for our customers, this decarbonisation work will extend beyond carbon reduction, but will also make our customers’ homes warmer, dryer and more energy efficient, to combat fuel poverty and promote better physical and mental health.

“We look forward to working alongside the NetZero Collective team and learning from their expertise.”

Rebecca Craig, Director of Sustainability and Climate Change, Sanctuary, said: “We are delighted to be working with NetZero Collective in the North West to deliver improved homes for our customers, and we are looking forward to getting started with this phase of our Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund Wave 2.1 programme. This phase will see us improving over 500 homes up to EPC Band C.

Sustainability is one of our core values here at Sanctuary – our culture involves working together as one team to support our social purpose and putting our customers at the heart of everything we do. This new phase of work will help drive forward Sanctuary’s retrofit plans and ultimately increase the warmth and energy efficiency of our customers’ homes.”

Can networked heat pumps solve high-density decarbonisation?

There has been lots of positive press following the launch of Kensa’s latest shoebox ground source heat pump, the Shoebox NX so we decided to look into whether it could be the key to solving the challenge of high-density decarbonisation?

According to Kensa, the Shoebox NX is designed to be a viable solution to decarbonise heating for 60% of UK homes, and throughout its launch Kensa mentioned it’s benefits for high-density housing types from high-rise flats to terrace streets. Space is at a premium for these types of homes, including outside space, meaning there isn’t always somewhere to site an air source heat pump unit which are rapidly becoming the go-to low carbon heating choice in the UK.

To reach the UK government’s targets of net zero emissions by 2050, millions of UK homes will need to transition to decarbonised heating sources and, by utilising the Shoebox NX within homes as part of a larger ground-source heat pump network, Kensa believe that savings of up to 20% are possible for the resident in terms of running costs, and that installation costs could be 8% cheaper than individual air source heat pump installations once being delivered at scale. But Kensa’s new offering may provide an answer.

Ground Source Heat Networks

Mimicking the existing gas network model, and building on their successful Heat the Streets project, Kensa is promoting a model which could see residents have their own Shoebox NX heat pump inside their home connected to a privately owned and funded ambient heat network, a form of fifth generation heat network. Residents would then pay a standing charge to connect to the shared ambient network, giving them access to low-cost, low-carbon heat.

So, are networked heat pumps the answer to your decarbonisation challenges? We believe that they certainly have a place in the future low-carbon heating mix, but whether they work for you will depend on your asset types and density.

To get the most from this type of system, landlords will need to be committed to decarbonisation of heating at a large scale, and work closely with stakeholders including local authorities and highways agencies due to the requirements for the network being installed within the street.

Networked ground source heat pumps will need entire streets, blocks of flat or neighbourhoods to deliver the installation cost savings which are being quoted. But where landlords own the majority of houses on a street, they can still be viable, and private households on the road would have the added benefit of having the option to privately access the ambient heat network through their own connections, as they would if choosing to join a cable broadband provider, expanding the opportunity to decarbonise heat to homes not owned by the landlord.

Large schemes like this are desperately needed to meet the decarbonisation challenge in the UK, but in our experience, many landlords are still looking at smaller, lower upfront cost options, which often mean doing a house-by-house approach, rather than a street-by-street approach to decarbonisation.

At NetZero Collective we’re keen to support landlords to scale up their ambition and accelerate the progress being made to decarbonise their housing portfolios. So we’ll be keeping a close eye on how Kensa’s networked heat pump offering moves forward, and it’s certainly something that we’ll be exploring for our clients when planning their decarbonisation journeys. With cost savings compared to air source heat pumps for both the landlord and the resident what’s not to love?

Read more about Kensa’s new heat pump offering here. Or reach out to a member of the NetZero Collective team to discuss how we can support you to plan, fund and deliver successful decarbonisation projects.

The role of a retrofit coordinator

The role of a Retrofit Coordinator has gained significant importance in recent years as the drive towards a more sustainable and energy-efficient future continues. The role is also continuing to evolve as new technologies come to market and new policy is enacted. To help make sense of it all, here is our quick explainer about the role of a Retrofit Coordinator, and why we believe it’s a vital support function for anyone setting out to decarbonise property in the UK.

What does a retrofit coordinator do?

A Retrofit Coordinator is primarily responsible for overseeing the planning and execution of retrofit projects. Retrofit refers to the process of making existing buildings more energy-efficient, reducing their carbon footprint, and improving their performance through various upgrades to the building’s fabric and mechanical infrastructure. These upgrades can include the installation of new heating and cooling systems, insulation, windows, and lighting, among others.

The Retrofit Coordinator acts as a bridge between homeowners, contractors, and other stakeholders to ensure that the retrofit process runs smoothly. Their duties include assessing the current state of a building, identifying potential upgrades, creating project plans, coordinating with contractors, and ensuring that the work complies with relevant regulations and standards. Additionally, they monitor the project’s progress, manage budgets, and ensure that the retrofitting objectives are met.

Skills and qualifications

Becoming a Level 5 Retrofit Coordinator requires a unique blend of skills and qualifications. At the core, they must have a minimum of two years’ experience working on retrofit or energy efficiency projects, hold 12 Level 3 credits in a built environment subject and display bult environment professional competencies as defined by PAS2035.

A typical retrofit coordinator course will consist of expert tutoring, multiple choice tests, written assignments. This course can be competed at your own pace and will equip you with the skills and knowledge to complete major projects successfully, bringing all key roles involved with whole-house retrofit under your direction.

Key skills include:

  • Project management: Ability to oversee multiple aspects of the retrofit process, from planning to execution.
  • Technical knowledge: Understanding of energy systems, building materials, and construction techniques.
  • Communication: Ability to effectively communicate with various stakeholders, including explaining technical concepts in layman’s terms.
  • Problem-solving: Skills to address and resolve unforeseen issues that arise during retrofit projects.
  • Attention to detail: Ensuring all aspects of the project meet regulatory standards and client expectations.

The importance of Retrofit Coordinators

Using a Retrofit Coordinators for your net zero project/s is an important tool in completing a successful decarbonisation project. Buildings are responsible for a significant portion of energy consumption and carbon emissions in the UK. Retrofitting existing buildings is a critical step in reducing our environmental impact.

Retrofit Coordinators play a crucial role in this process by ensuring that retrofitting projects are completed efficiently and effectively, leading to significant energy savings and reduced emissions. Moreover, their work helps to improve indoor air quality, enhance the comfort and value of buildings, and contribute to the overall well-being of occupants.

Where can I find a retrofit coordinator?

You can find a retrofit coordinator through a number of frameworks and dynamic purchasing systems (DPS). This is a highly responsible role, so it’s advisable to consider hiring in experts like the NetZero Collective.

NetZero Collective can be procured easily via the following frameworks:

  • Fusion21’s Decarbonisation framework (Lot 1a whole-house decarbonisation as Liberty Group Investments Ltd)
  • Pretium’s GFP Decarbonisation Delivery Framework
  • Procurement for Housing’s Decarbonisation retrofit works framework
  • Procure Plus’s Retrofit Programme Delivery Services DPS
  • EN:Procure’s DPS for Energy Efficiency Consultants
  • CHIC’s Retrofit Consultancy UK DPS

Lack of investment in green industries puts net zero targets at risk

Following the Spring Budget, announced on 6th March 2024, Neil Waite, Director of NetZero Collective shares his thoughts on the missed opportunity to deliver green growth.

“This week’s Spring Budget was lacking in major policy announcements to boost green industries and support the UK’s commitment to achieving net zero by 2050.

“Hailed as a ‘budget for long-term growth,’ by The Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, I think it missed the mark, and won’t meaningfully accelerate growth, certainly not within the decarbonisation sector.

“It is important that the UK remains an attractive place for development, and the UK Government must do more to address our urgent need to upgrade the energy efficiency of homes and commercial buildings.

“With a recession recently announced, the Government has missed a trick by not utilising our shared decarbonisation goals as a tool for accelerating growth and boosting the economy.

“In the current landscape, the Boiler Upgrade Scheme does very little to encourage low-income households to adopt clean-heat technologies and in the social housing sector, greater focus is being put on the 2030 EPC C deadline, which can be achieved without implementing low carbon heating technologies. It seems to me like short-termism has taken hold, and we’re missing out on the change to deliver dramatic change, hit our net zero 2050 targets and boost the economy whilst we’re at it.

“For the sector to grow there needs to be long-term support for homeowners, particularly low-income households, and social housing tenants. Increasing budgets for schemes such as SHDF, ECO 4 and the Green Homes Grant, and continuing with the implementation of the Clean Heat Market Mechanism would allow housing associations and local authorities to build long-term decarbonisation plans, and start to act now to decarbonise their property portfolio.

“With this expected to be the last major fiscal announcement before the next general election, it was disappointing to see a lack of ambition around, and support for, decarbonisation that could be used to unlock the investment required to boost the green economy in the UK. The target of net zero by 2050 is not going away and the pressure to fulfil our decarbonisation targets on time is building.”

NetZero Collective set to attend Futurebuild 2024

The NetZero Collective team will be attending Futurebuild at ExCel, London (March 5-7) and if you’re attending, we’d love to see you there.

Futurebuild is the place to be to know more about building a better future for the built environment. It’s the premier event in the UK who provide the stage for inspiring ideas, innovative solutions and knowledge sharing to drive sustainable construction and help us reach our goal of net zero.

Across the three days the exhibition brings together the entire supply chain to showcase, debate and understand the advancements in sustainable construction and the emerging technologies that will make net zero possible.

If you’re attending, I look forward to seeing you there. Free tickets are available here. And for anyone who cannot make it, but would like to learn more about how NetZero Collective is helping landlords to make decarbonisation easy, just reach out to one of the team.

 

Future-proof your social housing assets, and save your tenants money

On average, energy use for heating and hot water makes up 50%-65% of the total energy costs for your tenants. Because of this, well designed and installed retrofit measures like wall insulation, loft insulation, low carbon heating and renewable energy solutions can be the single biggest investment you can make into supporting the financial wellbeing of your tenants, and alleviating fuel poverty.

PAS 2035, the British standard for retrofitting homes, recommends a whole building approach to retrofitting that looks at opportunities to improve insulation, heating systems, ventilation and other building elements all at once. Let’s look at some options:

Insulation

Heat loss in buildings increases the heat demand of a property, so improving insulation is a great way to reduce energy consumption and energy costs for tenants. On average 25% of heat is lost through the roof of a property and a further 35% of heat is lost through the walls. To improve these building elements internal or external wall insulation and loft insulation can reduce heat loss.

The Energy Saving Trust says that increasing loft insulation from 100mm to 300mm can save a home an average of over £120 a year. If 300mm loft insulation is installed on a property without any insulation at all, the saving can be over £200 per year.

Cavity wall insulation saves an average of £160 per year, with some households saving up to £275 per year. For properties without cavity walls external wall insulation can save around £255 per year on tenant energy bills. Each of these insulation options reduce energy demand because they reduce the heat loss from a property.

Low carbon heating

For properties that are well insulated already, adding a low carbon heat source like an air source heat pump or ground source heat pump are ways of reducing energy costs for tenants further while also reducing carbon emissions. An air source heat pump is around 3 to 4 times more efficient than a gas boiler. This means that for every 1 unit of electricity used by the heat pump, 3-4 units of heat energy are delivered into the house. That’s 300-400% efficient!

Renewable energy

On top of the retrofit measures mentioned above, using renewable energy like solar panels and battery storage allows a property to generate and store energy for itself at a much cheaper rate than buying it from the grid. Air source heat pumps run off electricity and can be directly connected to the solar panels on a property, further reducing the cost to run the heat pump. The energy savings for tenants each year depends on the size of the roof, its orientation to the sun and the number of panels in the solar array. The Energy Saving Trust estimates an annual saving of between £160 and £420 per year from installing solar panels.

Putting all of these into practice can be daunting, but that’s where we come in. At NetZero Collective, our job is to make decarbonisation easy for landlords across the country. We’re here for you every step of the way, from taking your first steps as we analyse your property portfolio data, to planning your retrofit program and delivering it at scale.

Contact us to see how we can kick-start your decarbonisation journey.

Nottingham Community Housing Association works with NetZero Collective on project to decarbonise more than 200 homes for older people

NetZero Collective has undertaken a project with Nottingham Community Housing Association to help them prepare to decarbonise their independent living schemes. 

Seven assisted living schemes for older people, totalling 214 homes, were assessed under PAS2038 guidelines and outline plans were created on how they can be successfully decarbonised.

NetZero Collective undertook retrofit assessments, pre-retrofit coordination, 3D scans to create digital twins of each block, drone surveys, architectural/CAD drawings, topographical surveys, and communal heating condition surveys.

Following the analysis of the buildings owned by Nottingham Community Housing Association, NetZero Collective put together a scheme report to decide how best to minimise energy demand by improving the fabric of the property first, before switching to a low or zero-carbon energy source.

Some key recommendations included improved loft insulation, new external wall insulation and cavity insulation to minimise energy demand. Other recommendations included a mixture of zero-carbon technologies, including air source heat pumps, solar photovoltaics and battery storage.

The retrofit works proposed by experts NetZero Collective are projected to eliminate an average 49% of the carbon emissions per home, which equates to the elimination of 18.5 tonnes of CO2 by 2050.

Neil Waite, NetZero Collective Director, said: “It’s been brilliant to be working with Nottingham Community Housing Association to help them prepare to decarbonise more than 200 assisted living homes. We worked closely with the residents involved to ensure our approach was tailored to meet their needs.

“By using the PAS2038 process, our survey and recommendations put Nottingham Community Housing Association in a strong position to move forward with decarbonising their homes.”

Shaune Calame, Team Manager – Projects at Nottingham Community Housing Association said: “NCHA selected to partner with NetZero Collective as we were blown away by the speed and precise level of detail NetZero’s3D scans provided – producing PAS2038 information insights, stock condition results, reporting and more. Importantly, the service is quick and convenient for our customers and staff as it negates the need for repeat visits.”

NetZero Collective obtains PAS2038 commercial retrofit certification

NetZero Collective has successfully obtained PAS2038 commercial retrofit certification, a recognised standard of how commercial buildings in the UK should be decarbonised.

Our retrofit processes have been aligned to both PAS2035 and PAS2038 guidelines. It is currently mandatory requirement to have PAS2035 for all publicly funded projects and it is expected that PAS2038 will also be required in the future.

This accreditation further cements our position as an advocate for achieving net zero objectives for our clients and how we can support social landlords, councils and care establishments to achieve their decarbonisation goals.

PAS2038 applies to any non-domestic building. It is a specification that sets out requirements on retrofitting non-domestic buildings for improved energy efficiency. Our process uses dynamic simulations models to accurately reflect and predict the buildings energy use pattern to enable the development of robust retrofit strategies.

Our survey offering includes the use of 3D visual modelling producing CAD-level drawings and a virtual walk through, known commonly as a digital twin. Our lead professionals are all trained and competent in PAS2038 processes and have experience of large spectrum of different non-domestic properties, from 18,000 sqm leisure centres to 35 sqm pavilions.

We consider the overall goal and long-term strategy for the properties therefore our recommendations can be tailored to delivery needs and programme.

Daniel Fowler, Operations Manager, said: “We are proud to be PAS2038 certified. Our processes have been designed around PAS2038 guidelines since they were announced in 2021 by the British Standards Institution so we could be best positioned to deliver industry-leading retrofit services.

“This certification reminds us of our commitment to achieve ambitious net zero targets for our clients.”

In the wake of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s speech on the planned changes to the government’s net zero policy, it's imperative that we reflect on the broader context of our journey towards a sustainable future.

The key target of achieving a net-zero economy by 2050 is a legally binding commitment that should be unaffected by the ebb and flow of political tides. Our belief is resolute: the sooner we embark on the path to decarbonise our economy, particularly within the housing sector, the more cost-effective and transformative the outcome will be.

These adjustments significantly increase the challenge of meeting the UK’s legally mandated emissions targets and may delay further those housing providers that have not yet started their decarbonisation journey. The wider effects are curtailing job opportunities in the sector in which there is a serious skills shortage already, compromising energy savings, and prolonging high energy costs for tenants.

At NetZero Collective, our approach to planning with clients has always been centred on their personal net-zero targets, many of which are set to be achieved well before the 2050 deadline. We understand that proactive planning and strategic investments are essential components of any successful decarbonisation endeavour.

For landlords now contemplating a delay in their decarbonisation plans following the government announcement, it’s crucial to recognise the potential repercussions. The United Kingdom currently possesses some of Europe’s coldest, most energy-inefficient homes, underscoring the significance of implementing a nationwide retrofit programme without delay.

While it’s positive news that the grants to help households with the costs of replacing their gas boilers with heat pumps have been increased, we must note that our housing stock remains far from where it needs to be in terms of energy efficiency.

Some have been pinning their hopes on hydrogen as a viable alternative – but numerous studies have concluded that hydrogen is unsuitable for home heating and it’s significantly less energy-efficient compared to electric heating alternatives like heat pumps.

As we anticipate another challenging winter for many households, people will continue to grapple with the harsh realities of heating their homes and maintaining comfortable living conditions.

Working in partnership with councils on their retrofit journey, we frequently see tenants benefiting financially from thanks to solar panels, battery storage, and air-source heat pumps installed in their homes. These measures deliver long-term benefits that improve people’s homes, making them fit for the future while potentially saving them money on energy bills.

Beyond the immediate financial considerations, decarbonising homes presents landlords with a unique opportunity to positively impact their tenants and the local economy. These investments create local high-skilled jobs within the construction sector and enhance energy efficiency which can reduce tenants’ fuel bills and improving their overall quality of life.

So, as political landscapes shift and policy priorities evolve, the pragmatic course of action remains clear: to continue investing in decarbonisation where feasible and work collaboratively towards the shared goal of achieving the net-zero 2050 targets.

While the government’s stance on decarbonisation may fluctuate, our commitment to a sustainable future remains steadfast. Collective action from the housing sector today will pave the way for a more environmentally responsible and economically viable tomorrow.

Together with low-carbon energy specialists and academic research partners including the University of Southampton, NetZero Collective is supporting landlords across the UK to produce evidence-based decarbonisation plans, aligned to PAS2035 and PAS2038.

NetZero Collective secures two-year retrofit contract with leading supported housing provider

NetZero Collective has been awarded a multi-year contract to provide retrofit services to one of the country’s leading supported housing providers, Golden Lane Housing.

Marking a brand-new partnership for NetZero Collective, the project will see the improvement of 75 homes in both the North West and South West regions.

Commencing this summer, the £140,000 project will take place over two years and will incorporate retrofit advice, assessment and coordination and post-installation evaluation.

NetZero Collective secured the contract following a mini competition run via Procure Plus.

Golden Lane is an expert provider of supported housing for people with a learning disability or autistic people.

NetZero Collective is working in close partnership with the organisation’s communications team to ensure tenants are fully informed about the plans including via materials in accessible formats.

The team are experts in decarbonising buildings and are known for their work supporting social landlords to make their homes net zero. Their surveys use cutting-edge technologies and industry best practices to identify ways to reduce emissions and make buildings more energy efficient.

Neil Waite, Managing Director of NetZero Collective, said; “It’s a pleasure to be able to support Golden Lane Housing and their communities in their journey to net zero.

“We are proud to be at the forefront of sustainable solutions and it’s positive to be embarking on a new partnership.”

Keith Henderson, Head of Assets at Golden Lane Housing who is leading on the project says: “With the impact of rising energy prices on UK households, Golden Lane Housing is committed to supporting our tenants through the cost-of-living crisis.

“One of the ways we’re doing this is through improving the environmental performance of our tenants’ homes to make them more fuel efficient and in turn help tenants with saving money on their energy bills.”

Together with low-carbon energy specialists and academic research partners including the University of Southampton, NetZero Collective is supporting landlords across the UK to produce evidence-based decarbonisation plans, aligned to PAS2035 and PAS2038.