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green insulation Advice INSULATIONDeBate Thegreat alanPeak-Payne argues the

case for better insulated blocks and outlines one quick-fix that doesn’t cost the earth

With the recent consultation on the proposed GreenDealmakingthe headlines, energy efficiency in residential properties is bignews. However, greenissues in blocks of flats areoften ignored,largely duetothe barrierstoenvironmental improvementthat arethrownupbyleaseholdarrangements. As it stands,the government’s latest green initiative puts alltheemphasis on residents -who wouldbeultimately responsible for repaying the Green Deal charge - to take action.This, coupledwithunevensavings despiteequal costsagainst theindividual flats casts considerable doubtonuptake.Weare concernedthatwhilelandlordsand property managers would be willing to support tenants inmaking improvements in principle(ahead of possiblemandation),the currentproposals take no accountofthe complexities of typical leaseholderarrangements. Carbon reductioncompany Sustain has

beenworking with the Federation of Private ResidentsAssociations(FPRA)tohighlight the many issues facing leaseholders, landlords, RMC/RTMCos andpropertymanagers.We believe thatunless governmentworks more on thedetailinthissectorand/orintroduces additional incentives for leaseholders there will be significant inertia around the GreenDeal opportunity(formoreonthe FPRA’s GreenDeal campaign, see Flat Living issue 9, page30). Cavity wall insulation (CWI)isone of the

fundamentalmeasuresthatcan be takento improvethe thermalefficiencyofbuildings. If your flats were builtafter 1920,the chances arethattheyare suitable forcavitywall insulation, keeping in warmth to save energy andhelping reduce condensation.Inan averageflat withoutCWI,approximately 35% of totalheatlossislost throughthe walls. Insulationmakesanimportant contribution to energy efficiency andcould reduce heating costsby15%.Makingtenants awareofthese savingsisagood wayofencouraging action to be taken. However, incorporatingCWI in blocks

of flats throws up a range of issues, notably high access costs (typically for scaffolding) and achieving consensus for carrying out the worksamongall partiesinvolved,whichis often a lengthy process. Earlyengagementwiththe tenant

associationrepresentative,effective communicationofthe processinvolvedand support fromthe company looking to fit the

Flat Living Spring2012 25

measures oftengoes a longway to oilingthe wheelsonthese projects.However, the problems associatedwith energy efficiency in blocks of flats–particularlycavitywallinsulation-often cast a shadowover the benefits. Fortunatelyit’snot allbad news for

leaseholders.One energy efficiencymeasure has proved to be very successful in blocks of flats-withvirtually no barrierstoinstallation -and that’s communal boiler insulation.This saves energy by fitting insulation to un- insulated valves saving up to £20 a year in fuel bills for each valve that is tackled. Whilereducingthe temperatureofboiler

roomsisnot themain aim of insulation,it is auseful by-product of boiler insulation andmay improvethe well-being of residents

...insulation projects should not be ruled outbylandlords andrMCs...

living in flats adjacenttocommunalboiler installations. Followingarecentproject undertaken by Sustain at threedifferent blocks in Durham, Michael Straughair the Energy Officer for the City of Durhamtold us “I have inspectedthe threesites –and canconfirmthateverythingiswonderful... Normallywhen youwalkdownthe stairs to theboilerhouse youwould thinkyou were walking into a sauna room. Today, it was warm butremarkablycoolerthanbeforethe work was completed”.

Communal boiler

insulation projects


considerable savingsfor residents

Boiler insulation isunobtrusive, creates

no disruption to heatingsupplytothe block andhas,withthe introduction of theCarbon Emissions ReductionTarget(CERT) beenfree. Theinstallationisco-ordinated by theproperty manager and residents receive the benefits with little hassle andfewor no outgoing costs. In contrast,liveexamplesofCWI

installation in blocks of flats are particularly thin on the ground. The autumnissue of Flat Living (issue8,page11) highlightedthe recent insulation project at the Kingsmere flats in Littlehampton.Here, considerable barriers took overayeartoovercomebut theresidents have commentedthatflatowners living in themost exposed top floor flat have already noticed the differenceand even cupboardssufferingfrom dampdried out within 4weeks of thework. With an estimated1.6 millionflatsaround

thecountry,there isamassive demand forenergyefficiencyimprovementsbut in manycases thereare considerable obstacles to overcome,not leastthe questionof whetherornot theGreen Deal is themost effective vehicletodeliver them.Sustain andother interested partieswillcontinue to press forenvironmental legislationto facilitate widescale uptake of environmental improvements.Inthemeantime,insulation projects should notbediscountedbylandlords andRMCs/RTMCos.Early engagement with allparties involved andopencommunication aboutthe real benefitsthatcan be achieved can push projects forward and help residents reap the benefits.●

alanPeak-Payneis senior associate at carbon reduction company Sustain tel 01934 863650 email alan.peak-payne@

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