Warm Homes for All is a one-year Electricity North West funded action research project that seeks to explore alternative approaches to energy efficiency schemes in the context of fuel poverty.
A majority of energy efficiency schemes aimed at people experiencing energy vulnerability have been undertaken utilising Energy Company Obligation funding (ECO), as well as being self-financed by Local Authorities and Housing Associations. These schemes have often used large contractors, who work on a national scale and use large subcontracting chains to undertake works. In the light of retrofit disasters such as Preston and Grenfell and numerous other accounts of poorly undertaken work, the current approach is being questioned.
One approach to minimizing risk from energy efficiency works has been to develop retrofit standards (PAS2035). While this work is needed and useful, without questioning wider system issues such as limitations of ECO funding or issues around procurement and the supply chain, we may not see the changes needed to build better and stop fuel poverty.
Warm Homes for All is exploring what happens if we turn our approach to designing retrofit schemes on its head. Rather than working around the needs of a funder or existing supply chain, ask first: what would a successful energy efficiency scheme look like from the point of view of a resident experiencing energy vulnerability?
In asking this question we make the assumption that the needs of a resident for a warm home and cheap energy bills overlap with a scheme manager who is seeking to solve fuel poverty and reduce carbon emissions.
Once residents’ parameters of success have been established, the next question we ask is what kind of approach to procurement would meet these parameters? What kind of supply chain would be most appropriate? What needs to be put in place to enable this supply chain?
The final part of the research looks at institutions in Greater Manchester and explores the barriers and enablers that exist to support a people-centred approach to procuring energy efficiency schemes for people in fuel poverty.
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