Shadow Minister for Energy celebrates Abri’s retrofit success

Shadow Minister for Energy celebrates Abri’s retrofit success

Dr Alan Whitehead MP, Shadow Minister for Energy and the Green New Deal, recently visited Abri’s homes in Bruton, Somerset, that have benefited from retrofit works. The work on the homes was completed with funding from wave one of the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF) through The West of England Combined Authority.

Dr Whitehead, MP for Southampton, Test, was taken on a guided tour around some of the homes and had a chance to see some of the new technology and retrofit measures in action. As part of the retrofit programme, each home was provided with a bespoke and tailored solution, benefitting from a range of measures including updating cavity wall insulation, adding insulation to the loft and eaves and installing solar PV panels.

Customers were given a full package of aftercare to help them make the most of their new sustainability measures including a post-installation briefing, handy leave-behind materials and access to a dedicated retrofit expert at Abri to answer any of their questions.                                                                                                                                                                                                          Dr Whitehead said: “It’s really great to see the work that Abri have carried out on these homes, taking them beyond the Government’s target of EPC band C. These retrofitted properties are not only producing less carbon emissions, but the families who call them home will be protected against rising energy bills. Labour has a fully-costed plan to insulate 19 million homes over the next 10 years which will cut people’s energy bills and reduce our reliance on imported gas as we work towards net zero. It will help housing providers with schemes such as this.”

Between September 2022 and January 2023, Abri, one of the largest housing providers in the South of England, improved the energy performance of 31 homes in Bruton, making them easier to heat and keep warm. Every home in the programme saw its Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating increasing by two to three bands, with all homes now rated as EPC band A or B, some of the highest ratings for energy efficiency. The homes form part of a wider retrofit programme, with a total of 118 homes retrofitted throughout 2022.

Dr Whitehead talking with residents

The programme marks progress towards Abri’s target to transition its operations to net zero by 2030, and its homes and supply chain to net zero by 2050. Abri shares its commitment to sustainability with the Greener Futures Partnership (GFP), a unique collaboration of five housing providers, of which it’s a founding member.

The GFP collectively represent 600,000 customers in 300,000 homes and together the partnership is tackling the challenges associated with sustainable social housing. For example, anticipating continued demand and supply pressures, the GFP is harnessing their collective power and have developed a £1.5bn joint procurement framework to engage a range of new suppliers across the regions. More information on the tender can be found here.

Rose Bean, Director of Assets and Sustainability at Abri said: “We believe that everyone has the right to a high-quality, safe, warm and sustainable home. Retrofitting our existing homes is crucial in making sure all of our homes meet this standard, particularly against a backdrop of soaring energy prices and a cost of living crisis. By pooling our resources, experience and expertise together with others such as the Greener Futures Partnership, we will overcome the challenges ahead and make the important improvements needed to increase the energy efficiency and affordability of our customers’ homes.”

Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation commented: “Housing associations like Abri are leading the way when it comes to the retrofitting of our homes. This will not only help us tackle climate change, but will make a huge difference to cost of living for residents, making their homes cheaper to heat and more energy-efficient.

“I was pleased that Dr Alan Whitehead MP, got to see the important work Abri has done to vastly improve the energy efficiency of these homes showing that with the right support from government and with real determination and ambition we have an opportunity to make all social homes greener and warmer for residents.”

Abri is now preparing for their next round of retrofit, with plans to commence work on a further 400 homes in 2023. It’s hoped these homes will be supported by funding received from a £50m joint bid submitted by the Greener Futures Partnership for the SHDF Wave 2.1. If the bid is successful, the funding is expected to retrofit 5,000 homes across the partnership. An outcome is expected spring 2023.

Header image: NHF, Dr Whitehead and Abri outside retrofitted homes.

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