PROJECT OVERVIEW

Watmos Community Homes, together with Soltherm and Surefire Management Services have successfully delivered an essential energy efficiency initiative to some of England’s poorest neighbourhoods. A much needed high-rise apartment complex has received a major energy efficiency upgrade, providing its tenants with improved living conditions and affordable heating.

The regeneration project enhanced 1,074 homes, situated across 21 high-rise apartment complexes across four estates in Walsall.

Through its partnership with Soltherm and Surefire Management Services, Watmos was able to secure the essential Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF) funds necessary for the successful completion of this ambitious operation. Surefire Management Services was the primary contractor in this endeavour.

TECH DATA
PROJECT NAME:

The Watmos Regeneration Project

SYSTEM(S) INSTALLED:

ETICS system

TYPE OF BUILDING:

Apartment Blocks

INSTALLER:

Watmoss Community Homes

THE PROJECT

The primary purpose of this programme was to enhance the thermal efficiency of each dwelling, with the secondary goals of cutting down on energy use and lowering the likelihood of moisture and mould growth. To achieve this, Watmos required a durable, long-lasting ETICS system.

Energy efficiency means that we use energy better, and that ultimately means that people who live in the flats and the houses here have a better quality of life.

They pay less for their energy bills and they’re warmer. A lot of populations of these buildings are quite elderly on fixed income. So it’s really important in my view, to make sure that we’re able to provide these type of measures to these communities.

Stephen Gapik, Managing Director, Soltherm

The housing blocks themselves date back to the 1960s. As investments have been limited over the years, it became clear that these local landmarks needed to be updated to meet modern living standards.

I was involved with the estate more years than 20 ago. And I worked with residents, and we used to call these places ‘the ice blocks.’ So that says it all really, doesn’t it?

Richard Worrell, Resident

Watmos’s aim was for all properties to achieve SAP band/EPC “C” standards, which is a requirement for both SHDF and Energy Company Obligation (ECO) funding.

The project’s “whole-house” retrofit approach to retrofit was designed to deliver significant improvements to each block, starting with an innovative external wall insulation system with a 75-year effective lifetime. Other structural repairs and improvements would include incorporating new windows, balcony doors, extractor fans, balustrades and ventilation upgrades.

We were getting issues in terms of small levels of damp and mould. The other impact was the thermal efficiency of the blocks, it was significantly low. Part of this project was to make sure that we get their EPCs up to a minimum of C and that would enable us to assist customers, particularly in their bills, with rising heating costs.

Jason Holder, Executive Director of Asset Management, Watmos

To help improve the project’s overall appearance of the residential area. Surefire and Watmos actively involved the residents in the selection of colour schemes for each estate through regular community events.

SOLTHERM SOLUTIONS
ENDURANCE 75

The ETICS system installed is the BBA approved Soltherm Endurance 75 system, which has a brightly coloured silicone render top and a brick slip facade at the ground floors of all blocks. It can easily work with different substrates, composite structures, and multiple interface details.

Its 75-year lifespan and sophisticated low maintenance needs make it a standout choice. Its durability is unmatched, and its fire reaction rate of A2-s1,d0 is the best of its kind. This met the technology requirements and didn’t need any extra project-specific designs or system upgrades. Also, we used exact wind load calculations and advanced cross-knot fixings to make sure the system stays stable over its whole life, especially in the taller blocks.

We had in mind, creating a system that has increased durability. We did this through some very unique innovations. The primary development was to ensure that the system achieved a 75 year effective life.

That means increased durability, impact resistance was increased, but also when load resistance through the technologies of clamping rings and cross knot fixings as well as development and fungal and biocidal technologies to ensure the system can survive the 75 year environment is going to be exposed to.

Mark Gibbs, Technical Director, Soltherm

Endurance 75 Silicone was used on the main walls, and Endurance 75 Brick-ID was used to finish the ground floors. This gave the building a strong and attractive finish that fits in with Walsall and its surroundings.

Application Area: Approximately 29,441 square meters

Insulation Materials: 110mm Dual Density Mineral Wool

Finish Colours: Blue (41B), Grey (38D), and White

This installation followed the PAS 2030/2035 standards exactly. These standards were set after a thorough retrofit review and a long process of retrofit coordination and design.

This upgrade not only made the estate look better from the outside, but it also made it much more energy efficient, which helped over 1,500 people directly. In a time when energy costs are going up, these improvements have been very important for keeping people warm and reducing fuel poverty in the neighbourhood.

Energy regulators Ofgem have recognised this system as an Innovation Measure. Compared to other “standard” ETICS systems, it boosts ECO funding with an uplift of 25%.

THE RESULT

Ths undertaking has resulted in a litany of social, economical and environmental benefits to the housing blocks and local area:

Built a community devoted to sustainable living

More energy-efficient housing was made available

Enhanced fire safety that is future-proof

Localising the fight against fuel poverty

Implemented community-led carbon offset projects and delivered green employment initiatives and training

The big challenge for everybody who is going to work in energy efficiency is winning the hearts and minds of the people you’re trying to provide a service for. In order to get them to participate, you’ve got to have really effective communication strategies.

Stephen Gapik, Managing Director, Soltherm

The high satisfaction scores received from Watmos residents on the Net Promoter Score Customer Satisfaction Survey are indicative of the project’s success. Both Watmos and Surefire Management Services have been instrumental in bringing about improvements that have positively impacted the residents’ livelihoods and health.

You noticed the difference instantly once the thermal cladding was in place, it just made it so noticeably more comfortable. It just makes this place so much nicer to live in

Richard Worrell, Resident

Over 40 homes have been outfitted with cutting-edge monitoring technology as part of their comprehensive monitoring plan to keep tabs on energy use, humidity, temperature, and air changes. This data will be essential for evaluating how well the refurbished buildings and homes are working and will pave the path for future upgrades.

In recognition of this regeneration project, Watmos has received the National Energy Efficiency Award 2023, in the Multi-Measure Project of the Year, for making homes safer, modern and more energy efficient for residents.

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