Social landlords agree retro-fit pact

More than 100,000 houses are due to be included in Project Viridis, a low carbon consortium of a dozen social landlords in the Liverpool city region.

Housing associations and local authorities from across Merseyside have signed up to the programme of work, which is being co-ordinated by Liverpool Mutual Homes in conjunction with Liverpool City Council. The 12 social landlords and four local authorities are:

  • Liverpool Mutual Homes
  • Knowsley Housing Trust
  • Symphony Housing Group
  • Helena Partnerships
  • Plus Dane Merseyside
  • South Liverpool Homes
  • Regenda Merseyside
  • Riverside Housing Group
  • Wirral Partnership Homes
  • Venture Housing Association
  • Arena Housing Group
  • Eldonian Community Based Housing Association
  • Liverpool City Council
  • Knowsley Council
  • St Helens Council
  • Sefton Council

LMH said discussions with other social landlords looking to join are also underway.

The first phase of the project sees a feasibility study being carried out by economic consultancy Amion Consulting and on-site renewable energy specialist Encraft, with the focus on the installation of photovoltaic panels to enable partner organisations to capitalise on the Feed-in Tariff scheme. At present, the FIT pays 43.3p per kilowatt hour but rates will decrease annually from April 2012.

Steve Coffey, LMH chief executive, said: "The Liverpool city region retro-fit market is estimated to be in the region of £50bn, which will provide a massive boost for the people and businesses in Merseyside in so many ways.

"The scheme will directly help reduce fuel poverty for tenants and carbon emissions for landlords, while the financial ramifications will provide a large number of skilled jobs creating training and social enterprise opportunities.

"The first phase of the project is being planned as a focus on the installation of photovoltaic panels to capitalise on the higher FIT rates available until the end of March 2012 and a working group is now establishing how the revenue stream and financial model can be made to work."

Phase two of Project Viridis will address a full suite of retrofit options in respect of member organisations' stock. The landlords are also considering whether to establish a strategic relationship with a major utility company to ensure that full use is made of industry expertise and funding, as well as wider opportunities to link housing with other energy and low carbon activities.

The second phase will address the design and implementation of energy saving schemes, research, conservation, infrastructure outsourcing, power generation, energy supply and risk management.

Coffey added: "The consortium wishes to maximise local benefits and the social enterprise opportunities by expanding the programme to take into account the wider retro-fit agenda post-April 2012 with the likes of biomass boilers and internal and external cavity insulation fitted.

"Social housing is far more advanced than the private sector in terms of retro-fitting and as a result we have the experience and delivery processes in place to install the latest and greenest products available very efficiently."

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