Councillor Douglas Johnson inspecting homes built to the Energiesprong Standard in Nottingham.

At Wednesday’s Cooperative Executive, the Green Party Executive Member with responsibility for Climate Change, Councillor Douglas Johnson, proposed that Sheffield Council pursues a new radical programme to improve the energy efficiency of thousands of council homes at a time of rapidly rising energy prices. Councillor Johnson said,

“Just putting a bit of insulation in the roof or walls is not going to deliver the sort of savings we need to take tenants out of fuel poverty permanently. We need a whole house approach which can be delivered quickly with significant and substantial reductions in energy demand while delivering warm homes that are cheap to heat”.

The Green Group of Councillors on Sheffield City Council has been researching cutting edge, best practice from around the country and propose to use the Energiesprong method (developed in Holland) where whole wall and roof components complete with solar panels are produced, made to measure, in factories and installed in little more than a day. This approach is being developed by a consortium of councils including Nottingham, Exeter and a number of London boroughs who are all part of the Retrofit Accelerator Homes Innovation Partnership.

“Not only will this benefit tenants in terms of reduced bills but also presents the prospect of establishing a new manufacturing facility, with new skilled green jobs, in Sheffield, for assembly of the components, if we can generate enough work to justify the investment.” Said Councillor Johnson.

The finance model for Energiesprong produces savings for the council in maintenance, replacement and servicing costs of council homes. In addition, tenants will have to pay a comfort charge which is guaranteed to be less than the cost of the energy that the householder saves off their fuel bills.

Councillor Johnson said,

“Not only does this approach stack up financially for the householder and the Council it also makes often tired and outdated housing look new and up to date. It is effectively a new home for the tenants who live there”

Councillor Douglas Johnson went down to Nottingham earlier this week to look at both completed work on some of the improved homes and work in progress.

“It was impressive seeing how different the houses looked and we heard how satisfied tenants were with the work carried out. If we can develop this approach to dealing with the problems of council homes and build the capacity and capability to deliver this work at scale then we have the very real prospect of being able to offer this approach to help improve the homes of owner occupiers and private rented dwellings in Sheffield.”

At the Cooperative Executive meeting Councillor Johnson said,

“At the next Full Council meeting I will be submitting an amendment to the Housing Revenue Account detailing this proposal to allow all members to see the detail of what is involved and the real benefits of this scheme.”

(Picture of Councillor Douglas Johnson visiting properties improved to the Energiesprong standard in Nottingham)