Project: Kennedy Drive, Swindon, Wiltshire
A major renewable energy heating refurbishment involving the installation of energy-efficient air source heat pump systems (ASHP) in 55 occupied one-, two- and three-bedroom homes operated by social housing provider Stonewater during the COVID-19 pandemic. This scheme is the first large-scale renewable energy housing retrofit of its kind in the South West.
Customer: Stonewater Ltd
Sector: Social housing
Contract value: £500,000
Contract duration: 12 weeks
This significant retrofit project - the first major social housing scheme of its kind in the South West – involved the replacement of inefficient and expensive heating systems in occupied Stonewater homes with low-carbon, renewable energy air source heat pumps (ASHP). In helping to tackle fuel poverty, the new eco-friendly system aims to provide Stonewater housing association residents with a warmer and more affordable home heating system that will significantly reduce their energy bills. CCS delivered this ASHP scheme as part of a 15-year partnering contract with Stonewater to provide maintenance and planned works across its properties in the South West.
The three-month project required the strip-out and removal of residents’ existing home heating systems and replacing them with new externally fitted Samsung ASHP systems which extract heat from the air. The works included the installation of radiators, heat pump cylinders, heating and hot water pipework and all new controls, programmers, thermostats and comprehensive system training for each household.
This retrofit scheme was carried out by CCS during the coronavirus pandemic and a national lockdown which shut down works for several months creating potential labour, project delivery, supply chain and health and safety challenges.
- Health & safety: works had to be scrupulously planned and coordinated in advance with Stonewater and residents so that home access could be minimised, and 2-metre safe social distancing maintained throughout the project.
- Workplace restrictions: new constraints such as the 2-metre social distancing rule meant fewer operatives on site and potentially reduced productivity levels which could delay the retrofit programme.
- Lockdown delays: ASHP installation works had just started when the Government lockdown came into effect halting the project for several months. These delays also meant that residents had to be kept informed of the shutdown and planned restart and their project delivery expectations sensitively managed.
- Remobilisation: with no Government clarity on how long the lockdown would last, it was difficult to make project remobilisation plans which would be affected by the availability of tradespeople and supplies when works were able to restart.
- Health and safety: With our operatives working in residents’ homes and using common facilities, pre-works COVID-19 risk assessments were carried out and rigorous health and safety management protocols applied for each new ASHP system installation. New health and safety regimes and 2-metre social distancing also meant that our CCS project team worked in an adaptive and flexible way to deliver the scheme without putting residents and co-workers at risk to potential COVID-19 infection. This included CCS operatives and residents being interviewed and risk assessed in advance for any exposure to coronavirus infection and project teams carrying out works suited-up in full protective bodysuits, disposable masks, gloves and goggles. Work areas, tools and equipment were also meticulously cleaned and sanitised throughout the project.
- Client consultation and communication was critical to the all-round success of this project. Due to COVID-19 health and safety restrictions, this was mostly online with our project manager liaising with Stonewater’s building services manager via a Microsoft Teams video link or by phone. Communications involved a mix of regular meetings to discuss day-to-day project activities and
weekly updates which enabled CCS and the client to assess works progress and identify and resolve any potential issues. Planned and timely written and verbal communications with residents also ensured they were kept informed of the works programme and any virus-related project delays. This included reassuring householders of the rigorous health and safety procedures CCS was implementing to protect them from the virus during the works.
- Planning and logistics: to minimise COVID-19 risk, specialist works, supplies and deliveries were streamlined and carefully planned and coordinated for maximum efficiency. For example, by using multi-skilled operatives, CCS was able to reduce the number of trades people accessing residents’ properties to carry out plumbing, electrical, carpentry and plastering works. Equipment and supplies were also ordered well in advance to offset covid-related material shortages and supply chain and delivery delays. Residents were also contacted ahead of works so they could self-isolate in safe areas in their homes while their new heating system was being installed.
- Training: residents received one to-one CCS training in their homes on how to programme and operate their new ASHP heating system. These sessions were scheduled in advance and delivered by our commissioning engineer with safe social distancing measures in place.
How we added value
- Stonewater residents now have a cheaper and more efficient heating system which can heat their home and provide hot water around the clock.
- Residents now have the opportunity to significantly reduce their carbon footprint and cut their heating bills.
- Stonewater has significantly improved the EPC energy efficiency ratings on its Kennedy Drive properties with the majority of homes rising substantially from a D to a B rating. This requires a score of 81–91 SAP points which only 8% of UK properties currently achieve. An EPC shows the current Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) rating for a property.
- Stonewater also benefits from using the renewable heat incentive (RHI) – a government subsidy to bring the cost of renewable heat technologies in line with more conventional heating systems.
- Value for money: CCS has designed a low-carbon, ecofriendly and sustainable heating solution for Stonewater which will deliver long-term savings and a rapid return on investment.
“ In spite of the challenging working conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the CCS team adapted to the situation working flexibly with us to deliver the project quickly and without putting our residents’ health and safety at risk. We now have a heating and hot water system in our Kennedy Drive homes which responds to the dual challenges of tackling fuel poverty and reducing carbon emissions from domestic energy consumption. These air source heat pumps will deliver real value for money in the form of substantial energy savings and a rapid return on our investment. Our residents will now benefit from an improved, affordable and reliable heating system and significantly lower utility bills.
- Sophie Tuffin, Building Services Manager, Stonewater