Multi-storey (High-Rise) Retrofit Decarbonisation Programme

Glasgow, Scotland

Project Value: £12m


Amongst the properties for which Glasgow Housing Association is responsible are a large number of high rise multi-storey residential blocks. Recognising that many of these did not meet the currently recommended values for energy efficiency, the organisation appointed Wates Living Space to manage a large refurbishment programme. A key element of this would be the installation of high performance external wall insulation (EWI) systems.

The senior management team at Sustainable Building Services (UK) has many years’ experience of  working with Wates and was therefore recognised by the company as having particular expertise in this field.  As a result, Sustainable Building Services was appointed to undertake the work on a rolling basis, installing insulation to a total of 960 units. The project would require an excellent understanding of working safely and efficiently at height and, to stay on schedule, operatives would have to complete more than 800 square metres of insulation every week.

The project

The company recognised that in delivering on time and on budget, the key challenges would be to maintain quality standards, to ensure strict adherence to the technical specification and to communicate effectively with residents. To this end, it introduced its own dedicated Quality Manager, who was put in place as part of the company’s site-specific quality assurance plan. This plan included the use of quality ‘holding points’ which required the manager to sign off on particular stages of work before operatives could carry out further work on the building (or section) in question.

The work itself was undertaken using mast-climber access, which afforded several important benefits. Mast climbers have a smaller footprint than scaffolding, they tend to be less intrusive for the residents and they can be installed and dismantled very quickly. Moreover, because they provide a single working platform that can be loaded with materials and then raised, quality monitoring is easier, working efficiency is improved and there are fewer opportunities for accidents in transit.

For quality assurance purposes, all stages of the installation at height were recorded photographically and by video. The resulting files for each property were then uploaded to a specially created IT cloud that was made fully accessible to the client at all times. This played an important role in informing ongoing quality management decisions and facilitated prompt and effective communication between all parties.

Finally, in an effort to ensure that the ongoing works had a positive effect upon local employment opportunities, the company worked closely with the Glasgow North Regeneration employment initiative, through which it took on and trained three long-term unemployed persons.


In all, Sustainable Building Services (UK) installed approximately 35,000 square metres of external wall insulation to the various high rise blocks. This has resulted in substantially improved U values in the affected properties. In addition to enhancing the warmth of the interiors and reducing the incidence of condensation, the work is also expected to help residents to achieve considerable cost savings, estimated to be in the region of £300 to £400 per household per annum. Moreover, in addition to working with the three unemployed residents, the company also took on two apprentices, who were subsequently offered full time employment.

On the strength of its efforts, the company went on to be shortlisted for the Wates Group National Supply Chain Awards and was one of just two suppliers to be cited as ‘Highly Commended’ for the Group’s Quality Award.

HGS Local Authority Delivery (LAD) Phase 1A + 1B + 2
No. of Properties
500 x Non-Traditional Properties
PAS 2035:2019 / 2035:2019 Roles (SBS Supplier Network)
Principal Contractor / Retrofit Assessor / Retrofit Designer / Retrofit Coordinator / EEM Installer
PAS Energy Efficiency Measures
External Wall Insulation / Ventilation / Loft Insulation / Window & Doors / Flat Roof Insulation
Associated works
Structural Repairs / Roofline Works
Client Feedback

“We have been working with Sustainable Building Services on the Glasgow High Rise Framework since 2006. During this time we have overclad with EWI over 35 multi-storey flats with a total area of over  140,000m². We have developed a very close working relationship over the years which reflects the performance in terms of quality of product, safety, programme delivery and cost predictability, which is second to none. We would have no hesitation in recommending Sustainable Building Services as a contractor of choice based on our experiences to date.”

– Nigel Coxon, Operations Manager, Wates Living Space