Retro Expo Awards 2013: winners announced

The winners of the Retro Expo Awards, celebrating Britain’s most inspiring retrofit products, projects and people were announced at the Building Design Centre in London. The Awards Ceremony, sponsored by the Better Retrofit Partnership, honoured 12 pioneering initiatives from across the UK. The winners are as follows:

Building Fabric Product Innovation of the Year: Gumpp & Maier UK

Gumpp & Maier won the Building Fabric Product Innovation of the Year Award for their Timber-based Energy System (TES) Façade. TES is a prefabricated building system of large scale timber-framed elements that introduces the benefits of modern timber construction to the retrofit of our existing building stock. It combines a precise prefabrication technique off-site with a fast mounting process on-site, thus reducing the disturbance of the inhabitants through noise and dust pollution. The TES facade panels are mounted to the existing building structure, either as an additional layer or as a replacement of the entire wall of the building envelope, and can integrate other building elements, such as windows, balconies, solar active components or even plumbing and electricity.

Furthermore, the TES process is the development of a systematic process for surveying, renovation planning, construction and maintenance of the building stock. The end results are buildings that can even be improved to the EnerPHit standard . . . with residents still living in the building!

The judges commented:

“TES is a significant development as occupants are able to remain in-situ. We thought it was innovative, flexible, widely applicable and contributing to very high energy performance as well as economic retrofit at scale. There was also good post-construction measurement of performance.”

Building Services Product Innovation of the Year: Vent Axia

The revolutionary Lo-carbon Tempra was the UK’s first single room heat recovery unit to be developed that could be easily installed through a 100mm diameter hole. This allows standard traditional inefficient fans in homes to be easily replaced with this discreet, low energy, continuously running alternative that also offers affordable heat recovery. The Tempra’s innovation is illustrated through the unit’s two patents.

The judges commented:

“Vent Axia’s Tempra demonstrated significant innovation in heat exchanger technology for single room MVHR. It is easy to install and a unique innovation that delivers a product that is needed for our old stock. There is also a good set of monitoring in place to assess capability of product.”

Domestic Retrofit Project of the Year: Partick Housing Association

The Fortrose House Refurbishment involved substantial renovation and improvement works to a 1960’s housing block in Glasgow. The building consists of 48 two bedroom maisonette flats and five single bedroom flats. The flats had very little insulation fitted to the walls, roof or floors, were fitted with inefficient and expensive storage heaters and were in a poor state of disrepair. As a result the building suffered from major dampness, water ingress and thermal performance issues of which the works sought to address in a holistic, cost effective approach.

The works involved extensive internal and external renovations to the building. Externally the building was fully overclad in insulated zinc and render panels, new high performance windows were fitted throughout and existing balconies were converted into sunspaces. Internally the flats and maisonettes benefitted from replacement kitchens, replacement bathrooms, new front entrance doors, full replacement heating system and full rewiring. The common corridors were also fully decorated and a new replacement lift was installed.

The judges commented:

“This project demonstrated excellent community engagement and occupant handover. Improving the aesthetics has helped regeneration and community retention. There is clear long term investment that will significantly improve asset value.”

Non domestic Retrofit Project of the Year: Richard Hopkinson Architects with Platform 5

The Waltham Forest College project is part of a phased renewal of the College’s Forest Road campus known as The Heart of the College Initiative. The design embraces the best of the existing building stock and enables, by increasing the efficiency of use of space, the decrease in the overall college estate. This means that offsite facilities can be closed and transport between sites minimised. The design is in phases to enable the delivery of change to match the available funding streams. Generally the approach has been to refurbish and reutilise existing fabric as far as is possible. The phased approach to development has been accompanied by a management drive to raise awareness of energy consumption and reduce energy consumption by active management.

The judges commented:

“This was a robust, pragmatic and commendable project. Great results were delivered with users in-situ – energy use has been reduced when user numbers have increased. Energy saving is an integral part of the wider regeneration of the college.”

Large Scale Retrofit Project of the Year: AmicusHorizon

IFORE (Innovation for Renewal) is an exciting and cutting edge international partnering project that is leading the way in reducing residents’ energy bills by nearly 40%. AmicusHorizon has retrofitted 100 homes in Rushenden on the Isle of Sheppey Kent with the latest technological eco-measures. What’s so fantastic is at the same time they have empowered their residents to learn and save money by providing practical skills and advice via a range of activities and training programmes.

The judges commented:

“An excellent mix of traditional and new technologies. There was very good community engagement and aftercare including training and working with young residents. A good demonstration of combining funding sources.”

Retrofit Installer of the Year: SERS Energy Solutions Group Ltd

SERS Energy Solutions Group Ltd is a highly experienced specialist insulated rendering and external refurbishment contractor. Formed in 1990, SERS became a pioneer for the installation of insulated render systems within the UK and have installed over 3 million m2 of insulation. Over these years, their business has grown to provide an extensive range of associated services and solutions to support the energy efficiency market place. They are passionate about helping to eradicate fuel poverty in the UK through large scale refurbishment of solid walled properties and the upgrading of inefficient boilers. By becoming a member of National Energy Action (a fuel poverty charity) SERS are able to start to achieve this ambition.

The judges commented:

“SERS Energy Solutions Group Ltd demonstrated clear customer focus and appreciation of customer feedback, review and correct process, innovation and commitment in setting up a training academy. There is also strategic commitment through working with BRE on a good practice guide.”

Retrofit Promoter of the Year: SuperHomes

The SuperHomes initiative harnesses the enthusiasm of pioneering early adopters to demonstrate the benefits of retrofit. SuperHomes are older homes that have been refurbished by their owners to the highest standards of energy efficiency, achieving CO2 savings of at least 60%.

They estimate that their 174 volunteer SuperHome households have inspired perhaps over 100,000 people to take action within their own homes, spending over £3,000 per household in the process. In the course of this they have attained a trusted source status. SuperHomers are frequently interviewed by the national media such as The Telegraph, The Guardian, Evening Standard and BBC, helping the general public start to see retrofit as an attractive and inspirational choice. It is the stories SuperHomers have to tell, their motivations, their personal experience and successes, that slowly but surely are painting a human picture of why retrofit makes sense.

The judges commented:

“An innovative ‘exemplar’ approach with well documented impact and extensive engagement and partnerships”

Retrofit Assessor of the Year: Parity Projects

Parity Projects is a London-based, nationally operating, multi award-winning retrofit consultancy company. It was formed in 2006 by Russell Smith at a time when he was undertaking his own deep retrofit of his Victorian terrace house in Carshalton. Russell became frustrated with the lack of rigorous, independent analysis available to those wishing to find the most appropriate retrofit measures for their home. Parity Projects was created to help fill that void.

As a result, high-quality assessment lies at the heart of their services. Their Home Energy Masterplan service is nationally renowned as perhaps the most comprehensive individual home assessment available on the market. Similarly their “CROHM” strategic stock assessment service is widely respected as amongst the leading retrofit tools available to owners and managers of large property portfolios.

Alongside their assessments they also run accredited training courses, offer project management service, and undertake various retrofit consultancy projects spanning both policy and practice.

The judges commented:

“Parity Projects has a successful long term track record. We were impressed by their excellent in-depth assessment process which offers a breadth of options and by how they have provided strategic input to government to aid advancement of Green Deal.”

Excellence in Retrofit Training Award: British Gypsum Technical Academy team

For more than 40 years, British Gypsum has been committed to providing comprehensive training to installers and merchants, as well as apprenticeship schemes. With a focus on training and development, British Gypsum is pro-active in providing a more holistic support for Green Deal installers. Leveraging its expertise in manufacturing certified products eligible for the Green Deal, British Gypsum partnered with the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) to develop Specialist Upskilling Programmes (SUPs), for tradespeople to maximise their understanding and skills development to install IWI systems.

The five-day intensive course, led by Technical Academy Team from British Gypsum through the UK-wide network of Saint-Gobain Technical Academies, offers installers an opportunity to develop their knowledge and skills regarding the installation of internal wall insulation systems to enhance building insulation and energy efficiency. The manufacturer supports attendees in gaining a formal National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) Level 2 in Insulation and Building Treatments on completion of the programme by arranging site visits from their own in house certified training assessors. Course numbers are capped to uphold the quality of the training provided.

The judges commented:

“An innovative and brave national scheme addressing a key challenge in the retrofit sector in the UK.”

DECC Retrofit Pioneer of the Year: REECH (Renewables and Energy Efficiency in Community Housing)

REECH (Renewables and Energy Efficiency in Community Housing) is a £15 million European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funded project, managed by Sefton Council, that aims to improve energy efficiency in some of the most deprived communities in the Liverpool City Region (LCR).

Working with registered housing providers REECH will part fund the retrofit over 2,000 social housing units with a range of energy efficiency measures and low carbon technologies. Schemes currently being supported include large estate based projects of up to 600 homes where a range of energy efficiency measures are being installed to small pilot projects of several houses where single measures are being piloted for their impact on savings and potential for repeating. By increasing demand for retrofitting, energy saving measures and their installation, REECH seeks to support and influence local supply chains, provide opportunities for the development of knowledge and skills and promote new business start ups in this emerging sector.

The judges commented:

“This project combined funding sources to deliver retrofit at scale and had an excellent partnership approach that positively impacted on other areas of the local economy”

Outstanding Achievement of the Year: Affinity Sutton

Affinity Sutton won the Outstanding Achievement of the Year award for its FutureFit project (final report published summer 2013). As well as demonstrating that retrofitting does result in savings, the project has also highlighted aspects that didn’t work – which is rare and very constructive for the sector. Their excellent monitoring of how retrofitted buildings perform in-use was also commended. The project provides important insights for retrofit delivery in social housing and delivery of ECO more widely.

Outstanding Personal Achievement of the Year: Marion Baeli

Marion Baeli won the outstanding personal achievement of the year particularly for her book of 20 case studies of residential retrofit – commended as being an important resource for anyone implementing low energy retrofit. She is an excellent ambassador, making the case for retrofit succinctly and compellingly in many forums over the last few years.

Co-chair of the Judging Panel Paul Ruyssevelt, from UCL, commended the high standard of entries. He said:

“Entries to the Retro Expo Awards this year displayed considerable innovation and a clear commitment from industry and practice to deliver high quality retrofit technologies, practices and projects. The judges were pleased to see entries from individuals, SMEs and large established businesses; demonstrating the breadth of engagement in retrofit activities. Many entries this year, and last, reported on technologies that have just been released and projects that have recently been completed. We look forward next year to hearing how these technologies and projects are performing in practice.”

The Awards were hosted by TV presenter and campaigner, Penney Poyzer, who won the DECC Retrofit Pioneer Award last year. They were staged at Retro Expo, an exhibition and conference dedicated to low carbon retrofit which is taking place at the Building Design Centre in London on 05 and 06 December 2013.

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