accord2 logoThe Accord Group, a large housing and social care organisations in the Midlands, has been working with the University of Wolverhampton’s Built Environment Climate Change Innovations (BECCI) project team to find the leading ‘smart grid’ businesses in the West Midlands.

Supported by the European Regional Development Fund, local firms have been challenged to present their ideas and designs for smart grids, with £250,000 funding offered to fit out 50 existing properties with smart grid products over the coming year.

Accord Housing is completing a three-year retrofit project to stimulate demand for energy efficiency products by ‘trialling’ new to the market smart grid technologies and products on some of its hard to treat stock. The trial will also assess the effectiveness of renewable energy generation, batteries to store PV generated energy, hybrid heating systems and other innovative technologies.

rosemary coyneAs well as reducing carbon emissions, the project is expected to lead to an expansion of the environmental business base in the West Midlands and provide knowledge on new ways to deal with hard to treat housing. Initial findings will be reported on in October and contact details for Rosemary Coyne (right), ERDF’s Retrofit and Smart Grid Project Manager, are given below.

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In Solihull suburb, Chelmsley Wood, which has elected four Green Party councillors, thousands of people now have warmer and more energy efficient homes. A £25 million project delivered by Solihull Community Housing and British Gas through their Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) has fitted solid wall insulation to thirty high rise buildings and installed thousands of double glazed windows in the area.

accord2 people in housing

It said to be one of the largest energy conservation projects in Britain, and involved ‘overcladding’ more than 1,100 homes across 30 high-rise buildings. Many residents are already benefiting from reduced energy bills and we estimate the scheme will deliver lifetime carbon savings of around 184,000 tonnes. Twelve state-of-the-art eco-friendly biomass energy units that can heat over a thousand homes have been built. The project is also developing an external cladding programme for bungalows originally built with single skin walls.

In 2009, Jon Morris, Localise West Midlands, referred to the work of the Accord Housing training centre in Darleston: “It gives the West Midlands a start on other regions but one we need to build on and expand to develop and ensure that the right skills will be there and developed. Increasingly we will be looking at higher levels of skills, and not just of the construction workers but also surveyors, architects, planners and public sector procurers”.

amber ruddIn July this year, announcing an end to funding for the Green Deal Finance Company, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd said: “It’s now time for the building industry and consumer groups to work with us to make new policy and build a system that works”.

The projects described above give rise to hopes that, despite withdrawal of government support, this valuable work can proceed.

For more information about the Chelmsley Wood project, contact: Robin Dunlevy on rdunlevy@solihull.gov.uk

For more information about the Accord project, contact Rosemary Coyne at rosemary.coyne@accordha.org.uk

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