Two Rivers Housing appoints Bristol’s gcp architects to support housing retrofit pilot project

Two Rivers Housing retrofit project at Blakeney

Gloucestershire-based Two Rivers Housing has appointed Bristol-based gcp Architects to head up the design of its social housing decarbonisation pilot project in the Forest of Dean.

The housing association has identified 17 of its homes in Blakeney to take part in the project, which will see the properties go through a complete retrofit programme.

PAS2035 Retrofit Coordinators VOR Group are part of the gcp team. They will coordinate the specification of the design and oversee the construction ensuring that it meets the correct specification to meet PAS 2035 standards.

Following the retrofit work, the housing association expects to see at least a 45 per cent decrease in the carbon emissions produced by the homes included in the project. Alongside this, the Energy Performance Certificate for each property will improve to Band B. This should mean that the homes will cost less to heat and run – savings which will be directly passed on to its tenants.

Commenting on the appointment, Luke Beard, Assistant Director of Assets for Two Rivers Housing, said: “The appointment of a well-established, experienced architect is key to ensuring that we get the best results for our tenants, homes and organisation, so I am very pleased to be working with gcp Architects who will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the project, which will be shared with our in-house team.”

Michael Hanson, Senior Architect at gcp Architects added: “We are delighted to be working with Two Rivers Housing on its decarbonisation pilot project and to assist with its journey toward its net-zero carbon targets.

“We are committed to a proactive approach to advise and support clients on a wide range of sustainability issues and this is an excellent step forward as part of low energy design principles and delivery of energy efficiency via retrofit of existing building stock.”

The work undertaken through this pilot project will help inform the housing associations long-term planned maintenance programme as it looks to improve the energy efficiency of all of its homes.

Two Rivers Housing provides affordable housing to more than 4,200 families across Gloucestershire. It was awarded a £500,000 grant by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to part-fund the pilot earlier this year. 

The BEIS £50m Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund Pilot funding scheme was launched in September 2020. Successful bidders were announced in March 2021 for the £50m government demonstrator project aimed at finding the best approach to improving the energy efficiency of social housing in Britain.

PAS 2035:2019 was sponsored by the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). This is the key document in a framework of new and existing standards on how to conduct effective energy retrofits of existing buildings, it covers how to access dwellings for retrofit, identify improvement options, design and specify Energy Efficiency Measures (EEM) and monitor retrofit projects.

The standard drives the ‘whole house approach’ including the ‘fabric first’ methodology. It defines the qualifications and responsibilities of individual retrofit roles and respective activities required prior to and post EEM installation.  It also includes a risk assessment process that builds incrementally robust requirements depending on what requirement path (A, B, or C) the retrofit project is assessed to fall within.

Two Rivers Housing pledged to build 1,000 new affordable homes in the local area between 2018 and 2028, as of 31 March 2021 it had delivered 326.

In 2020, the Group received its largest ever private investment securing £130m in additional funding.

Committed to becoming a Net Carbon Zero organisation by 2050, its Newent-based head office is built to BREEAM Excellent standards and the Group was ranked fifteenth in the Top Sustainable Housing Providers by Housing Digital in 2021.

It secured half a million in government grants to run a decarbonisation pilot project in a small number of its homes in the Forest of Dean in 2021.