The Optimised Retrofit project, supported by Welsh Government, is now live, with Whole Home Surveys being delivered across Wales by more than 100 trained industry professionals.
The collaboration of 68 partners, including 26 social housing providers, and managed by Sero, will see the decarbonisation of more than 1,750 Pathfinder homes to enable the creation and refinement of the tools required to roll out the large-scale decarbonisation of homes across Wales and beyond.
The project has moved from the drawing board to delivering results, with the first surveys being conducted by the social housing teams as they begin to assess the pilot homes that will be retrofitted as part of the project.
The project has received £13m funding through the Welsh Government’s Optimised Retrofit Programme, part of the Innovative Housing Programme, established to help reduce the carbon footprint of existing social housing in Wales, make energy bills more manageable for residents and provide new job and training opportunities.
Following a rapid period of development of the Whole Home Survey app by Sero, a first version of this cutting-edge digital tool has now been launched and is being put into action. This follows more than 100 industry professionals having been trained in how to use the Whole Home Survey digital tool to enable them to begin assessing the pathway homes.
The app involves entering a range of detailed information about the property into the digital tool using a tablet. This information will then be processed by a second digital tool that will be launched shortly, Pathways to Zero, that will identify a phased approach to reducing the carbon footprint of the property to the lowest possible level.
Throughout February, project managers and surveyors completed their Whole Home Survey training which involved exploring a series of modules, each designed to cover all aspects of the survey tool. Backed up with their new training and knowledge, the RSL teams will not just conduct accurate surveys to help understand the requirements of each home but will help the Optimised Retrofit project test and refine the Whole Home Survey digital tool as the project progresses.
Owain Israel, Project Manager at Linc Cymru said: “I completed the training along with three of my colleagues. The training itself, half a day a week over four weeks, was easy to follow. Learning virtually posed its challenges but is something I think we have all grown used to as we have been working remotely since the pandemic first began.”
Owain and his colleagues from Linc Cymru have already started testing out the survey tool: “We have been out this week and undertaken the first Whole Home Survey for Linc, which is exciting! The first survey took a little longer than expected but I am sure after feedback this will speed up. We have a catch up scheduled to see how these are progressing and how the ‘app’ is working.”
The Optimised Retrofit approach will deliver a whole house, pragmatic route to decarbonising existing homes. The pathfinder programme will use a combination of building fabric improvements, low and zero carbon technologies (such as solar panels, battery storage and heat pumps), and intelligent ongoing operational controls, to take each home to its lowest achievable carbon footprint.
Andy Sutton, Cofounder of Sero said: “We are really looking forward to receiving feedback on how the survey is working so that we can continue to develop and refine the app. The industry is becoming increasingly aware that data is going to be key to helping us understand more about our homes, and crucially in helping unlock some of the barriers that currently prevent us decarbonising more homes, such as by enabling more widespread investment and increasing levels of awareness among homeowners and occupiers. Our whole home survey digital survey tool will help pave the way for a movement towards a data and evidence driven industry, including for example, a move towards the use of Building Passports as recommended by the UK Committee on Climate Change.”
Pathways to Zero aligns with the Green Finance Institute’s work on creating a standard for Building Renovation Passports, digital tools containing a logbook of energy-efficiency works to date on a property and a roadmap of the next steps to net zero.
Following the completion of the Optimised Retrofit Pathways programme, the digital tools will be made available to Welsh social housing providers, academia, government, and subsequently private homeowners. This will enable the long-term delivery of a legacy of tools, skills, frameworks and an evidence base that will allow others to follow and enable the decarbonisation of Wales’ homes to quickly gain scale and pace.