After a slow start to the government’s Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme, which is finally gaining momentum, one of the first locations to benefit from the programme is the coastal town of Gosport in Hampshire, with almost 500 privately owned homes set to take advantage of the energy saving measures.
A severely deprived area, Gosport was historically a major naval and military town associated with the defence and supply infrastructure of Her Majesty’s Naval BASE (HMNB) Portsmouth. In the 1930s Gosport’s industry was dominated by shipbuilding/supplying the Navy and new housing was built to house dockyard workers and Navy servicemen as the rent was far cheaper than in nearby Portsmouth.
Once these activities declined, the properties became occupied by residents of the area and many are now in a state of disrepair. All are of solid wall construction and there is no gas supply (with all homes being fuelled by electricity), which only adds to the properties’ thermal inefficiency. As a result, Wetherby Building Systems (Wetherby) identified this area as one that could greatly benefit from thermally upgrading its housing stock.
Wetherby negotiated funding from one of the major energy companies for an initial 420 properties on the Rowner Estate to have external wall insulation (EWI) installed as the primary measure, along with loft insulation where relevant. The fully funded ECO project has allowed the homeowners to each receive £9,000 worth of energy efficient measures installed at no cost to themselves.
Before any EWI work could commence, planning permission was needed in line with the government’s updated planning guidance for ECO schemes, which stipulated that any work to the exterior facade needed to mirror the look of the existing properties.
Once planning permission had been granted and all homes had been surveyed, Wetherby specified its Epsiwall system as the most effective solution for the Wimpey No-Fines properties. The insulation comprised 90mm EspiTherm insulation board, which was rendered with a 1.5mm white silicone finish, providing a uniform look that complemented the existing neighbouring homes.
Contractors Wallcoatings Ltd, tasked with installing the EWI, were required to create bespoke trim detailing on several of the properties to cater for the increased insulation needed around the verge trims and gable ends.
Following the application of EWI, the properties are now recognised as ‘thermally efficient’, with a dramatic reduction in U-Value; with a previous value of 2.10 W/m2K, each home in the area now has a U-Value of 0.30 W/m2K, in accordance with current building regulations.
The energy efficient improvements are also expected to provide a significant reduction in energy bills, with the average homeowner due to save an estimated £400 on their fuel bill annually.
Associated with social housing regeneration projects in the main, the Gosport project is a positive example of how the ECO scheme can also benefit private homeowners. Including private estates within the projects that receive ECO funding can only help to meet government targets and reduce UK carbon emissions.