Triple crown for Housing Executive’s net zero retrofit project

Three men and a woman pose with award
TV presenter and Architect George Clarke presents the Sustainability Project of the Year award to Caroline Best, Architect, Colin Laverty, Energy Officer, and Johnny Despard, Project Manager, for the Housing Executive’s innovative retrofit project.

A ground-breaking net zero carbon project, which is now driving our strategy for upgrading homes across Northern Ireland, has won three major national awards.

The Newry-based project has scooped the National Housing Maintenance Forum (NHMF) award for Best Net Zero Carbon Initiative, recognising the innovative approach being developed to provide better insulated homes with lower carbon emissions.

The pilot scheme also received the Best Small Retrofit Project of the Year award from the Retrofit Academy at the Futurebuild 2022 conference in London.

And the team was presented with the Sustainability Project of the Year award by architect and TV presenter George Clarke at the AICO|HomeLINK Community Awards 2022.

The pilot involved upgrading five terraced houses at Loanda Crescent to different energy efficiency standards and evaluating the results over a two year period.

Measures were introduced to drive down heating demand, reduce carbon emissions and improve the comfort, health and wellbeing of the occupants.

Housing Executive Head of Quality Improvement Adrian Blythe said: “We are delighted to receive these important awards which recognise the hard work, foresight and dedication of so many people.

“We would also like to thank our tenants in Newry who allowed us into their homes to install and monitor some of the latest energy-saving techniques.

“This work will undoubtedly help us build a better environment for everyone.”

A new report on the award-winning scheme, Journey to Retrofit, has also been released by the Housing Executive.

Architect and Technical Development Manager Caroline Best said: “The purpose of the pilot was to understand the benefits and challenges of implementing various retrofit measures, which would then inform the strategy for future schemes on a much larger scale. 

“Measures included external wall insulation, loft insulation, gas boilers, heating controls, new windows and doors, an airtightness strategy and innovative ventilation systems,” she said.

“Completed in 2018, the scheme was followed by a two year evaluation process to assess the impact on tenants’ fuel bills and comfort levels.

“Detailed research was also carried out to look at the social and economic impact of the energy upgrades.

“The knowledge gained has provided a solid base upon which the Housing Executive is building its retrofit strategy and responding to the challenges of the decade ahead.

“We want to share the lessons learned with stakeholders who may be considering, or are currently undertaking similar retrofit work, perhaps for the first time.”

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