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Pilot project signposts sustainable solutions for UK social housing

Repairs and maintenance provider Mears unveils its role in the Hyde Group eco-friendly refurbishment of the future on the 23rd of October as part of the 'Retrofit and Replicate' project, aiming to achieve 80% reduction in carbon emissions.   Mears in partnership with ECD Architects, have transformed a modest three bedroom terraced house in South East London for social landlord The Hyde Group into the model of energy efficiency - demonstrating that 'going green' is a financially viable option for the sector. Mears together with their supply chain partners including Travis Perkins & Kingspan are the largest combined donors of materials and manpower for this project.   The key driver behind the project was to reduce the house's carbon emissions by 80%, outperforming the current Government target of 60%. According to the Energy Saving Trust (EST) the average household can easily save up to 25% of its annual carbon emissions through simple energy efficiency improvements but Mears has tripled this by taking a retrofit approach. "From the start Mears has been dedicated to this house refurbishment project since it not only represents best practice in reducing both our energy needs and our carbon footprint but will also provide vital feedback for the industry on the true effectiveness of the improvement measures taken," says Bob Holt, Chairman of Mears Group.     Mears, which has earned a name as innovators in the repair and maintenance of social housing nationwide , project-managed the retrofit of the house with energy saving products including super-insulation, heat-recovery ventilation, solar-thermal panels, LED lighting and photovoltaic panels.   Looking to the future, the second stage of the project will see the property monitored once occupied by its new residents - and will become a landmark EST/BRE benchmark project - with sensors fitted to record performance over a two year period.  Hyde and partners Mears and ECD Architects are keen to understand which combination of technologies is most effective in reducing the house's energy needs, as well as their potential to be replicated in other similar existing homes.   Once the incoming residents have been given an understanding of how to maximise the energy savings in their new home it is estimated that they could expect to see their fuel bills drop by as much as 65% which equates to around £600 per year.      Dr Phyllis Starkey Labour MP for Milton Keynes South West who will be officially opening the project expressed her enthusiasm: "In 2004, the UK's 26 million homes emitted 41.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide: this represented more than a quarter of the UK's emissions (27%). Much more needs to be done to encourage energy saving in our homes,  which is why I am pleased to see the Hyde Group and its partners taking a lead in the critical work to make our existing homes more energy efficient."   The monitored results will be closely reviewed as Hyde endeavour to develop ways by which to practically replicate such changes across its' existing housing stock, of over 40,000 homes.   Ken Mantock, Mears Group Director of Community & Environment explains: "The importance of this project cannot be underestimated. Essentially our work for Hyde provides a potential template to roll out environmental improvements and a sustainable approach which directly benefits local authorities and RSLs and tenants. This ranges from tackling worklessness in the community through our apprenticeship schemes to tackling fuel poverty and dramatically reducing running costs. In this way, sustainability not only becomes an aspiration but importantly provides efficiencies and potential costs savings all round."   ENDS

About Mears Mears Limited - part of Mears Group - is the leading social housing repairs and maintenance provider in the UK.  The company employs more than 5000 people to maintain, repair and upgrade people's homes and conduct work to improve the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of people in the UK.  Mears focuses on the provision of social housing within the community sector and carries out more than 3,000 repairs each day to 500,000 houses nationwide.   Issued on behalf of Mears Group by Montpellier PR. For further editorial information please contact: Philip Hick, email: or Lisa Pringle, email: lisa@montpelliergroup.comMontpellier PRTel: 01242 262 977   The Hyde Group is a leading provider of affordable housing and makes a significant contribution to meeting housing needs and improving people's quality of life. Hyde is one of the largest housing association groups working in England, owning or managing over 40,000 homes in London, Kent, Surrey, Sussex, Hampshire, the East of England and East Midlands. More about The Hyde Group can be found at:   Our homes are responsible for about 30% of the UK's total carbon emissions, and over 80% of the homes now standing will still be here in 2050, the year that Government targets are due to have reduced the UK's total carbon emissions by 60%; thus the need to concentrate on reducing emissions from these homes is imperative.  However, the overwhelming expert opinion regarding housing is that this target must be a more challenging 80% to have a real impact on the planet.

ECD Architects is a London based, award winning architectural company specialising in the design of high quality, low energy and low environmental impact buildings. Originally founded in 1980 to combine architectural practice with energy research and consultancy, our expertise in environmental and social architecture has culminated in over 100 successfully completed projects for Local Authorities, Housing Associations and Developers throughout the UK.



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