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ECO SHOULD BE FOCUSED ON LONG-TERM SOCIAL VALUE SAYS PANEL OF INDUSTRY EXPERTS

ECO SHOULD BE FOCUSED ON LONG-TERM SOCIAL VALUE, NOT SHORT-TERM ENERGY EFFICIENCY SAVINGS, SAYS PANEL OF INDUSTRY EXPERTS

ROCKWOOL launches refurbishment and regeneration forum series to share ideas and best practice on making ECO a success




ECO* funding has to meet the long-term property refurbishment needs of local authorities, not ‘merely’ act as a box ticking exercise to deliver short term energy savings improvements.

That was the conclusion from the first of a series of roundtable debates, that provide a forum for local authorities and energy saving experts to share innovative ideas and best practice on how to kick start the retrofit revolution, hosted by energy efficiency solutions provider ROCKWOOL.

Marking nearly nine months since ECO started, the first of the ROCKWOOL ECO roundtables took place on 10th September 2013, and following the discussions, ROCKWOOL has developed five ‘best practice’ guidelines on how to access ECO funding and to ensure the long-term success of these projects.

Local Authorities and Social Landlords need to:

Work collaboratively across county boundaries with other local authorities and social housing providers to put forward attractive packages of works for ECO funding

Fully understand their stock profile and identify the priority works they wish to achieve to secure ECO and European funding

Clarify upfront what the key social outcomes they wish to achieve are e.g. job creation, reduction in fuel poverty and ensure these are at the heart of the works

Schedule energy efficiency programmes alongside other planned works to deliver significant cost efficiencies and reduce the potential disruption to residents

Engage with residents and educate them on the benefits of energy efficiency and how to get the most out of the refurbishment works on their home

The discussion concluded that local authorities should take the lead in ECO projects, identifying long-term improvements that meet their housing strategy and also deliver carbon reductions, and then bid for ECO funding to deliver them. The panel stated that currently ECO projects are often offered to local authorities focusing on short-term energy saving gains (such as boiler replacements) which don’t match their refurbishment needs for the social housing stock.

The panel also argued that spending money on ECO improvements was unlikely to deliver the intended reduction in fuel poverty unless there was a corresponding focus on consumer education and teaching people to reduce their energy use, while ensuring homes are still warm and comfortable.

Andrew Corless, Director of Refurbishment and Regeneration, ROCKWOOL UK said, “I believe that ECO can have multiple benefits, not just for the residents but also for a wide range of local authority budgets, through contributing to the wider local economy and workforce. At a time of ever squeezed local authority budgets, ECO is an unmissable opportunity however, it is complex and funding is not being accessed quickly enough.

“We have initiated this series of events to share industry best practice and work with local authorities to help them open up ECO so we can all find ways to maximise the impact of the policy and make it a success for everyone involved, particularly residents and communities.

To find out more about ROCKWOOL's solutions for social housing landlords visit: www.rockwoolsolutions.co.uk


 *ECO places legal obligations on the larger UK energy suppliers to deliver energy efficiency measures to British householders. ECO provides energy efficiency grants with a particular focus on vulnerable consumer groups and hard-to-treat homes. It’s is estimated to be worth £1.3 billion per year from 2013-2015.

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