ERDF Social Housing Energy Management Project – Final Project Report

Figure 2: Thermal image of Wimpey No Fine system built homes. "A" has no insulation and "B" has external wall cladding. Homes like "A" are to be targeted under ECO using measures like "B" has.Thermal image of Wimpey No Fine system built homes. “A” has low amounts of insulation and “B” has external wall insulation. 

This is the project report for the Social Housing Energy Management project. The project is a partnership project between the UK’s National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec), South Tyneside Council and their managing agent South Tyneside Homes and Northumberland County Council and their managing agent Homes for Northumberland. The consortium has received £1.9m investment from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the total project value is £3.84 million.

The project involved retrofitting low carbon and renewable technologies onto over 300 properties managed by South Tyneside Homes and Homes for Northumberland. The properties were selected as they were considered “hard to treat, hard to heat”. A “hard to treat, hard to heat” property is one of non-traditional build or off the gas network, the properties selected for this project were all of nontraditional build. Under the original definition of fuel poverty, North East England had the highest levels of fuel poverty in England in 2010, thus one of the major objectives of the project was to remediate fuel poverty in socially rented properties.

Throughout this project, Narec has worked with Narec Distributed Energy to monitor the homes. This has included resident surveys, thermal imaging and using data loggers to measure the internal and external temperatures of the homes. Air pressure tests were commissioned and carried out on a sample of five properties to understand the improvements in air infiltration rates.

In addition to the testing and monitoring aspect of the project, a unique SME capacity building programme was delivered. Through the project, regional SMEs were able to access tailored support and assistance to expand or diversify their business capabilities within the low carbon sector. By combining this with the retrofit programme, SMEs were able to visit the retrofit works as they were delivered allowing them a unique insight into the installation and use of these low carbon and renewable technologies.

This report uses the data collected, in addition to third party data, to understand the impacts of the improvements to the properties.


ERDF Social Housing Energy Management – Final Project Report (pdf)

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ERDF Social Housing Energy Management: Pre-Works Report

This is the first major report for the Social Housing Energy Management project, as funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). This project is based around insulating hard to treat prefabricated homes which are used for social housing, and monitoring in depth before and after to understand the levels of improvements created. The project also supports Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the North East of England, although this report focuses on the energy efficiency measures.

North East England has the second highest levels of fuel poverty in England. As a result, the National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) formed a project consortium with South Tyneside Homes and Homes for Northumberland to undertake thermal energy efficiency improvements in almost 400 socially rented hard-to-treat (off-gas or non-traditional construction) properties. The consortium has received £1.9 investment from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The detailed analysis of pre and post work data of buildings will, allow the fuel poverty and financial improvements for residents to be quantified.  This Pre-Works report details the work carried out in assessing, testing and monitoring the buildings prior to any improvement being carried out.  The properties have now almost all been improved, and we are monitoring them over winter 2012/2013 to understand the levels of improvement. The full results will be released in summer 2013.


Executive Summary of ERDF Social Housing Energy Management Pre-Works Report

Full version of ERDF Social Housing Pre-Works Report

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Microrenewables Toolkit 2.0

In 2007, as part of the overarching regional strategy to build a low carbon economy in the North East, the Regional Development Agency One North East (ONE) and the Association of North East Councils (ANEC) commissioned the Microrenewables Toolkit 2.0. The purpose of the project was to aid planners in ensuring the optimum low carbon solutions are used in buildings, and that developers follow all relevant national and regional policy. Further funding for the project was given through the European Regional Development Fund.

Sustainability Guidance for North East Buildings

This document was originally created by a collaboration of Narec, CP Energy, and BRE (Building Research Establishment). However since then many factors, both regulatory and technological, have changed, including the removal of the Regional Spatial Strategies, and with them regional renewable energy targets. Therefore it was felt that a dramatic rewrite was necessary. Due to these changes, Narec Distributed Energy was employed through Narec by ANEC and ONE to update and improve the original.

Within this document, the policy requirements on local authorities are discussed, and exactly what is expected of them. This document is intended to ensure that planners have a full understanding of present legislation.

There are many examples of low carbon developments, both within and outside of the UK. This document looks at some of these, and demonstrates the possibilities that are open when planning new developments. Some of these, such as Four Housing Group’s Sinclair Meadows and Gentoo’s Racecourse Estate, are within the North East of England and show exactly what an exemplar project is capable of.

Carbon Mixer® North East 2.0

A new version of the Carbon Mixer® North East software was developed. This software offered a common language for planners, architects and developers, showing both the financial and carbon cost of new developments, ensuring that initial rough cuts of the sustainability of new developments can be assessed quickly, and so all developments are compared on the same system. Bobby Gilbert & Associates were responsible for the original version of the Carbon Mixer®, and therefore created the updated version.

Using the Microrenewables Toolkit, it was hoped that the North East will be able to follow all the relevant legislation with regard to energy, and make the region a world class exemplar on how a low carbon society can be created.


Carbon Mixer North East 2.0 is no longer available for download, and the software is now quite old. We hope in the future to revive this software, as we felt it was a very good intuitive tool for local authorities to ensure adherence to low carbon planning rules.

Sustainability Guidance for North East buildings is available as a downloadable pdf:

Sustainability guidence for north east england buildings pdf

Explore Renewables

A sister project, the Carbon Mixer for Schools, was funded by One North East and developed by Narec, Bobby Gilbert & Associates and the Centre for Design Research.


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Registered Power Zones report for the UK Government

This report was produced as part of a Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) funded research project. Its objectives were as follows.

  • Research the technical, regulatory and commercial possibilities associated with the concept of Registered Power Zones
  • Conduct feasibility studies on two potential RPZ sites in the CE Electric network region (northeast England)
  • From the results of the feasibility studies, draw out generic designs, rules and techniques that could be useful in any RPZ, and disseminate the results from this research project

Download: Assessing feasibility of RPZ on CE Electric network areas