SBS to Deliver DREEAM Energy Efficiency Pilot

In February 2018, SBS will start work on a new £2m energy efficiency scheme in Padiham, Lancashire. Commissioned by DREEAM - a European funded demonstration project - the work will seek to prove that larger scale refurbishments deliver greater and more cost-effective energy savings than schemes involving single properties alone.

The DREEAM project will target 75% energy reductions in the treated properties, driving ultimately towards an nZEB (nearly Zero Energy Building) standard. It will be piloted in three sites across Europe: in Lancashire, in Landskrona in Sweden, and in Treviso, Italy.

The Lancashire properties are managed by Places for People (PfP). They include a total of 108 units, comprising 36 flats and 72 houses, all with solid walls. PfP selected the site because it offered significant potential for energy performance improvements. Proposed works include the fitting of external wall insulation, new energy-efficient storage heaters, hot water cylinders, mixer showers and photovoltaic panels on the roofs. The brief was intended to encourage a whole-house approach to the works.

As a demonstration project, DREEAM aims to deliver accurate data about the effects of the different efficiency measures. Accordingly, its researchers plan to monitor energy performance before, during and after the works. They began in the summer of 2017 by conducting a battery of tests at a void property in Padiham. Here, they examined wall U-values, heat loss coefficient and air tightness. Built in the 1930s, the terraced house exhibited reasonable air tightness, but heat retention figures fell far below modern construction requirements.

In order to achieve the targeted improvements, SBS has been carrying out intensive design work in conjunction with Places for People (PfP) and the insulation system designer PermaRock Products Ltd. The plans and detailing are designed to produce a significant improvement in U-values, while also meeting the clients' aesthetic requirements.

In an effort to encourage resident feedback, representatives of SBS, PermaRock and PfP exhibited at a customer consultation day on 14 December. Held at a local nursery, the event drew more than 25 residents, who were able to view visualisations and product samples, ask questions and express their thoughts on the proposals as a whole. This feedback informed the final designs, and formal planning consent is expected later this month (January 2018).

The great majority of the occupants will be social housing tenants but three of the houses are owner-occupied. In an effort to improve the desirability of the whole estate, and to ensure that the scheme delivers maximum benefit, homeowners will be offered the chance to have the solid wall insulation fitted while works are in progress. The presence of staff and materials will yield important economies of scale and therefore minimise the cost.

Work on the 108 Lancashire properties is expected to last 8 months.


This scheme is the second energy efficiency demonstration project that SBS has supported in recent months. It also delivered the ReMO Urban project in Nottingham, an £800,000 scheme that is now providing a blueprint for best practice within the social housing sector. (See article.)

These and other schemes are helping to prove a key argument recently set out in an independent government-commissioned report entitled "Understanding Best Practice in Deploying External Solid-Wall Insulation in the UK." The 96 page report cites SBS as an exemplar of best practice and notes: "Mass deployment and roll-out of energy efficient retrofit through area-based approaches have been increasingly seen to be a key method to delivering high quality and cost-effective installations." (See article.)


DREEAM (Demonstrating an integrated Renovation approach for Energy Efficiency at the Multi-building scale) is a 4-year project (2015- 2019). Over this period, more than 250 dwellings across the 3 pilot sites will be renovated to a nZEB standard. DREEAM aims to demonstrate net zero energy renovation approaches achieving 75% net energy demand reduction.

DREEAM is an EU-funded project which aims to show that renovating at a larger scale opens the opportunity for a better integration of renewable energy and is generally more cost effective. In Europe, residential and commercial buildings are responsible for 40% of energy consumption and 36% of CO2 emissions. Most of the residential buildings are more than 30 years old and need renovation to improve energy efficiency and comfort. However, standard renovations result in only 10% to 40% of energy efficiency improvement, and the payback time is too long for more renovations to be justifiable.

DREEAM therefore seeks to encourage housing companies to scale up renovations. This means to:

  • Increase the scale of renovation from the typical one building to multiple buildings at a time.
  • Raise the renovation ambition to a nZEB (nearly Zero Energy Building) standard.

The project aims to demonstrate that ambitious large renovations:

  • Allow for a better integration of renewables
  • Result in higher energy efficiency gains
  • Are more cost-effective
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