Catalyst Housing wins top eco-home award

Catalyst Housing has won a prestigious industry award. The Reading based eco-homes project received The Inside Housing, Sustainable Housing Awards 2012, for Sustainable Smaller Housing Retrofit Project of the Year (fewer than 25 homes.)

The eco-homes project, is a pilot scheme where two Victorian properties have been revamped with two differing eco friendly approaches. The first home, the ‘Cost House’ where the marginal costs above standard refurbishment costs have been kept as low as possible. The second,  the ‘Performance House’, where budgetary constraints have been secondary to the final building performance.

The range of energy-related measures installed in these properties make the project the first of its kind in the Borough. This project aims to identify value for money measures that will be suitable for incorporation into other programmes of refurbishment work.

For the first 12 months, residents are receiving no training or instruction on how to reduce energy consumption. Energy and water consumption is constantly monitored remotely; the costs of the residents’ fuel bills will also be looked at. At the end of the 12 month period residents will then be provided with detailed training on how to optimise the use of controls.

A second monitoring phase will then take place. At the end of this phase, the project team will evaluate how training has affected fuel consumption and bills.  This will feed into a review on how a specifically targeted training could best be rolled out for all Catalyst residents.

The project is ‘open book’, and all value engineering exercises, specification choice processes, and project costs are published so that everyone can benefit from knowledge gained and lessons learned.

The award was presented  on behalf of Catalyst Housing to the Project Manager, Maria Hanrahan; the Project Engineer, Robert Hardy; and the Inspector, Rob Keegan.

To encourage good practice, these residents will become ‘Green Champions’ and will speak at residents’ groups about how behavioural changes can help reduce running costs and the carbon footprint of the homes.

The project has already generated interest from a number of external organisations. Experience gained from the project has fed into a study by the University of Westminster titled: European Retrofit Network: Retrofitting evaluation methodology report.

This project would not have been possible without the support of ig9, Chas Berger & Son Ltd, East West Electric and Stapletech.

Tom Titherington, director of business development and marketing said:

“Reducing Co2 and waste is increasingly important to the housing industry if we are to protect the environment whilst building quality homes. This award is fantastic confirmation of the hard work put into this project by the team. A lot of time and effort has gone into the planning of our eco-homes to  discover vital information on which measures optimise fuel cost savings and carbon dioxide reductions whilst representing the best value for money.”

Jess McCabe, the editor of Sustainable Housing, said:

“Social landlords have continued to lead the way on sustainability in housing. They have been fuelling some of the most ambitious green, affordable projects in the country, and showing that green housing isn’t just eco bling for millionaires. Already a number of landlords are working to become the first providers of energy saving home retrofits, under the green deal. Our annual awards recognise the best of the best.”