Energy Agency's story
Scottish Government awards funding to local authorities to develop and deliver solid wall insulation programmes across Scotland. The Energy Agency manages and delivers these schemes on behalf of South Ayrshire, East Ayrshire and Dumfries & Galloway Council.
These schemes help 'fuel poor' households in communities with hard-to-treat homes through the installation of specialist insulation measures. They assist vulnerable householders to improve the warmth and comfort in their homes and lower their fuel bills. We also assess and monitor the quality of installations at all stages.
We work closely with each Council partner to target the communities in greatest need of help which are identified in their Local Housing Strategy and through the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD). These areas are a combination of vulnerability to fuel poverty and the potential for well needed energy efficiency measures in hard-to-treat houses. Fuel-poor areas are targeted in a street-by-street process to insulate every household with solid wall insulation where possible.
Insulating these properties requires days and often weeks of skilled work to install solid wall insulation at a cost much higher than the traditional measures like cavity walls or loft insulation. Although councils can generally afford to improve their own stock by installing these expensive measures, the large number of privately owned houses within these fuel-poor communities cannot. This problem is exacerbated in mixed-tenure blocks where council works can't proceed because private owners can't afford their contribution, therefore neither council tenant nor private homeowner benefits from these improvements. The area based schemes are designed to be inclusive so that each house is insulated regardless of whether it is privately or socially owned. The result being that all houses in a targeted area are improved.
We are also undertaking groundbreaking research into the health impacts of the energy efficiency improvements. In partnership with NHS Ayrshire & Arran, we are conducting a comprehensive evaluation project to investigate the potential benefits of solid wall insulation, examine the impacts of the interventions to the households and the potential benefits to the householder's health and wellbeing. Recent results have shown positive outcomes in these areas. The monitoring programme is continuous and reports are published regularly on our website.
Partnership working with each local authority is important to ensure smooth running and includes regular reporting and communication.
Through a tendering process we selected six contractors to work on the scheme. Regular reporting and on-site meetings take place to ensure smooth and efficient installations. The Contractors involved in the 20-21 programme were Hugh LS McConnell Ltd, A. C. Whyte & Co. Ltd, SERS Energy Solutions (Scotland) Ltd, Everwarm Ltd, Pro-cast Building Contractors Ltd and MP Group UK Ltd.
Useful learnings from Energy Agency
The Energy Agency has managed and delivered a large number of energy efficiency projects since it began in 1999. This experience taught us that managing and delivering the Area Based Schemes for 3 local authorities with multiple contractors would require detailed and robust project plans at the outset. These plans included introducing unique elements that had not been used in previous energy efficiency projects.
To effectively manage the different local authority schemes, we appointed Project Coordinators to each project along with a Project Officer. These teams work with each Council to develop and deliver programmes that meet the needs and requirements specific to the Council and their communities, rather than a generic approach.
Projects are historically managed from the office and reliance is placed on the contractor to effectively install works. We decided on a more innovative approach and send Project Co-ordinators and Quality Control Officers on site to ensure efficient and clean installations take place and to check householders are happy at every stage. This creative use of staff ensures any issues between contractor and householders are resolved in a timely manner and kept to a minimum. These meetings occasionally include community participation.
Day to day managing of six different contractors is very challenging and also requires a specific approach. Their reporting, paperwork and valuations are presented differently but rather than standardise them we wanted to ensure that their efficiency and effectiveness are not comprised by using unfamiliar systems. Therefore our teams have adapted to their systems.
External wall insulation requires a building warrant which can be a timely process. We created a direct link between contractors and council building control to improve and allow bulk submissions to speed up and streamline the process. This has resulted in a quick and efficient method of receiving building warrant approvals.
Having delivered the Area Based Schemes for eight years we learnt along the way that involving the local community helps to encourage householders to sign up to the installations. We organise Open Days, involving the contractors and local councillor and explain to householders the benefits of the installations, the process and show examples of insulation.
With support from householders, we regularly use houses that have had insulation installed as a show home to let others see how the finished product looks and to provide an opportunity to speak to a householder who has been through the process. These are both very successful ways of getting householders on board.
A well-trained team can make a huge difference to the success of a project. It's important they work together well and complement each other's skills and expertise. Continued professional development is encouraged to ensure staff keep up to date with their skills requirement.
Energy Agency's metrics
Customer satisfaction questionnaires.
Amount of heat saved.