Retrofit West Midlands & Birmingham - 10 September 2013 - Birmingham.
Venue: Millennium Point, Birmingham.
Regional collaboration with the public sector is key finding of conference for retrofit to work
There was a great line up of speakers at the Birmingham and West Midlands Roadshow on 10 September. All the key players were there, including award winning Birmingham Energy Savers and the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), to talk about the region’s retrofit strategy.
David Thomas, Deputy Director, Green Deal Demand at DECC opened the conference with a key note speech looking at the bigger picture. Poor buildings that are wasting money and increasing energy insecurity; job creation and meeting long term carbon reduction goals are some of the many drivers for why the government is keen for us to retrofit. DECC has instigated incentives, new building regs, energy standards and funding initiatives to stimulate the market for retrofits and Thomas urged the region to work together, get involved and take up the retrofit challenge. Such ongoing national investment and support was welcomed by Encraft and the other panelists. This combined with the increased emphasis on quality and utilities’ flexiblity in their approach is giving glimmers of hope but it was felt that there is still a long way to go.
The first of four workshops then went on to look at how to get consumers to pay for retrofit measures. It’s all about targeting and timing – getting the right message to the right people at the right time – according to Dr Strandoo from the Energy Saving Trust. People will be more open to energy efficiency at certain trigger points and events in their lives such as the birth of a child, at retirement etc . Modernisation or refurbishment of a home is when people, growing families in particular, are most open to energy efficiency. Most projects entail tackling a single room and not the whole house so this needs to be born in mind. When trying to reach the socially disadvantaged, Adenike Titloye from West Midlands Kickstart emphasised the importance of collaborating with local authorities, community groups and voluntary organisations as they are trusted messengers.
In Birmingham alone, every year the city imports 16,000 GWhr of energy, has a leakage of over nearly £2bn from city economy and transport fuel adds another £1bn. Sandy Taylor, from Birmingham City Council, outlined their carbon roadmap with four priority areas for the city namely heating, sustainable transport, energy efficiency, and decarbonised local energy. The Birmingham Energy Savers is an exciting new, partnership initiative that aims to deliver this remit but on a large scale. By 2015 they hope to tackle 12,000 fuel poor homes, recruit 150 SMEs to participate, create 300 jobs and co-ordinate the finance and delivery of £75m Green Deal loans for local residents and businesses.
The Council’s partnership with Carillion is based on interdependency and shared aspirations. The public sector provides brand, access to project finances, networks, access to potential customers, longevity, accountability structures and the private sector provides expertise in marketing, mobilisation, delivery, agility, financial and risk management. Currently BES is looking at stock condition surveys, area/community assessments and financing options.
The business case for retrofits was put forward by National Rail and Birmingham Airport based on their own experiences. Azhar Quaiyoom, Senior Project and Sustainability Manager, gave a very interesting presentation on the redevelopment of Birmingham New Street Station. Environment, economic, CSR and legislation were some of the drivers for the 5 year refurbishment costing National Rail £600m. Early spatial planning using 3D/4D modelling and design was deemed essential for the retrofit and in order to establish the viability of low carbon technology a BREEAM and low/zero carbon technology study was carried out. This resulted in a range of measures being installed including a CHP scheme – a first for a Network Rail managed station.
So how can businesses finance retrofits and ensure they perform as predicted at project design phase? Christoph Harwood from Marksman Consulting outlined the finance options available including an ESCO balance sheet or Green Deal loan to fund energy saving measures.
Malcolm Hanna from the National Energy Foundation explained that a gap in performance can arise due to design, construction & operation silos. He suggested businesses should evaluate performance by tracking energy use throughout; minimise the problem by taking a systems approach; implement and use sub-metering and finally train managers and occupants to operate building efficiently.
The closing plenary focused on whether or not collaboration on a regional level makes sense for the west midlands retrofit project. Expert commentators from Marksman Consulting, SHAP, MEBC, Carillion Energy Services and Worcestershire County Council shared their views. All agreed from their experience that regional collaboration stabilises the markets, provides consistent message and supply chain initiatives to ensure depth, breadth and sustainability. A mixture of public, large and small private and community organisations have been shown to work. Lastly the customer journey throughout must be clear and concise and a ‘trusted brand’ from the local council should feature highly so as to give them confidence to invest.
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