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Case Study – Insulating Social Housing

At EWI Pro, we specify many projects throughout the UK. They vary in size, scope, and system application. From large-scale commercial projects to small-scale residential, we cover every type of project. As we’ve discussed recently, we provide a comprehensive range of testing processes. These include wind-load tests, moisture testing, and pull-out tests. Our Technical Team also provides expert U-value calculations to ensure the system is suitable. In our new series of blogs, we will shine a light on specific projects and the build-ups they utilise.

Kooka Developments is responsible for executing a project which is focused on insulating social housing. The project is a collection of 285 social houses in the Watford constituency. However, something that sets this project apart is the funding behind it. Every home’s retrofit is fully funded under the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, which is a fantastic result for the council and the tenants. Kooka utilised a trusted system using EPS to enhance the energy efficiency of the homes.

Project details

– Substrate: Brickwork
U-Value change: 2.2W/(m2K) – 0.3W/(m2K)
– Basecoat: EWI-225 Premium Basecoat
– Finish: EWI-075 Silicone Render
– Colour: 28036 Magnolia
– Location: Watford
– Installer: Kooka Developments

The build-up

All 285 houses in this project utilise an EPS build-up, including our most popular basecoat and silicone render. Initially, the substrate needs to be thoroughly cleaned to ensure it’s dry and free from dust. Once prepared, it’s primed using EWI Pro’s Universal Primer. This primer is crucial as it significantly reduces the absorptive capacity of the substrate, thereby boosting the adhesion of the materials that will be applied in the subsequent steps.

Following substrate preparation, the insulation material, Expanded Polystyrene (EPS), is installed. The installation process benefits from the use of EWI Pro’s Premium Basecoat as an adhesive, which secures the EPS insulation to the substrate. This basecoat is exceptionally flexible and robust, therefore making it a reliable adhesive choice for this crucial step of the insulation installation.

Once the insulation is securely affixed, a basecoat layer is meticulously applied over the insulation boards. The Premium Basecoat is again utilised, this time to create a smooth surface on which the render will be applied. This basecoat serves as an ideal foundation for the subsequent steps, owing to its strength and flexibility.

The next step involves embedding the Orange Fibreglass Mesh within the basecoat. This mesh is fundamental as it significantly enhances the tensile strength and crack resistance of the system. It provides indispensable reinforcement, especially around vulnerable areas like windows and doors, ensuring the system is robust and durable. Render primer is carefully applied to the reinforcement layer. This primer ensures that the render will adhere robustly to the basecoat, setting the stage for the final decorative finish. EWI Pro’s Silicone Render is a highly breathable and flexible material, making it an ideal choice for external wall insulation systems. It not only embellishes the external appearance of the property but also provides a long-lasting, crack-proof finish.

What is the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund?

The Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF) is a financial initiative set forth by the UK Government, targeting the enhancement of energy performance in social rented homes. This scheme embodies a part of the broader efforts towards reducing carbon emissions and promoting energy efficiency in the housing sector.

  1. Fund Allocation:
    • The UK Government proposed a substantial investment of £3.8 billion over a decade to bolster the energy efficiency of social rented homes. The initiative kicked off with a £62 million fund announced in 2020. This was followed by a £160 million allocation for the first wave of the SHDF during the financial year 2021/22, extending till January 2023.
    • Further fund allocations have been made as part of the 2021 Spending Review settlement. Around £800 million was subsequently committed to the SHDF. Wave 2.1 of the fund, launched on 29 September 2022, aimed to allocate a substantial part of this funding to support the installation of energy performance measures in social homes across England.
  2. Objective:
    • The primary objective of the SHDF is to upgrade a significant portion of social homes that currently fall below the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) C standard. The fund strives to elevate them to meet this standard. This is poised to contribute significantly to the reduction of the carbon footprint associated with housing. Therefore, it aligns social housing with the broader national goals of carbon neutrality.
  3. Impact:
    • The implementation of energy efficiency measures, facilitated by the SHDF, is anticipated to substantially reduce fuel bills for residents of social housing. This fund is also geared towards bringing a significant amount of social housing stock currently below EPC C up to this standard, which is a measure of energy efficiency.
  4. Recent Developments:
    • As of March 2023, a notable £1.4 billion from the fund has been allocated to local authorities, providers of social housing, and charities. This allocation is directed towards upgrading homes and off-grid households with energy efficiency measures, also encapsulating the ongoing commitment towards enhancing the energy efficiency and sustainability of social housing across the UK.
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