Two towers fit for the century to come

Posted on  by Matthew Dear

Residents in two tower blocks in Barking have benefited from ground-breaking works to upgrade the performance of their homes and ensure they are more resilient to extreme weather. The tower blocks have been extensively refurbished and set a new standard for renovation.

Environment minister Lord Taylor of Holbeach visited Colne House and Mersea House in Barking’s Harts Lane Estate on Friday and saw for himself the £10.6 million works (£3.6 million provided by the Mayor of London, the remainder by Barking & Dagenham Council) which have improved the flats and equipped them for the challenges of a changing climate.

The makeover of the 200 flats followed guidance set out by the London Climate Change Partnership (LCCP) on how to future-proof existing housing: this included new water efficient bathrooms and kitchens, improved thermal insulation and glazing to keep the flats warm in winter and cool in summer, and flood protection measures.

These measures will help the residents save money on utility bills, help the landlords (Barking and Dagenham Council) save money on reduced maintenance costs and reduce carbon emissions. The refurbishment is all the more remarkable in that the work took place without having to ask residents to move from the towers.

Lord Taylor was joined by Barking MP, Margaret Hodge; Cllr Phil Waker, Barking and Dagenham Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing; and Sir Gerald Acher, Chair of the London Climate Change Partnership.

 Minister for Climate Change Adaptation, Lord Taylor said:

“We need to take steps to deal with the changing climate so our homes and businesses are protected for the future.

The Harts Lane Estate is a great example of how we can green our homes, ensuring they are kept cool in hotter summers and use less energy in cold winters.

Most adaptation action happens or needs to happen at a local scale, and I’m delighted to see this working in practice.”

Sir Gerald Acher, Chair of the London Climate Change Partnership said

“LCCP are delighted that Barking & Dagenham had the vision to follow our guidance and install a range of resilience measures alongside the energy efficiency measures in the buildings, protecting residents from heat and flooding, and saving water.

This important work will ensure that the residents can be more comfortable and safe in their homes whatever the weather, today and in the future as our climate changes, and save money on their water and energy bills. LCCP will use this demonstration project to better understand the practicalities of applying resilience measures to social housing stock more widely.”

Cllr Phil Waker, Cabinet Member for Housing, Barking and Dagenham Council, said:

“These works represent a real investment from the council in these two blocks, improving the quality of the flats and bringing them up to Decent Homes Standard. The works to improve energy efficiency are good for the environment, and will also lead to warmer flats and lower fuel bills. On behalf of the council I’d like to thank the residents of Colne and Mersea for their patience while the work was carried out. I hope they are pleased with the end result.”

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London said:

‘Retrofitting London’s homes and buildings is a win-win, as these improvements in Barking demonstrate so aptly. Not only does it make perfect common sense cutting energy bills and making people’s homes more comfortable, but we can create jobs and economic growth.’

During a recent evaluation survey one of many residents endorsed the results:

“I’m very happy with the work, it is so much better from when I first moved in. I’ve seen how good the windows were for energy efficiency in the winter and I’m expecting to save money when it [payment for bills separately] comes in. My friends can now come and visit and I’m happy”

Notes to editors

    1. The London Climate Change Partnership LCCP is the centre for expertise on climate change adaptation and resilience to extreme weather in London. LCCP is comprised of public, private and community sector organisations that have a role to play in preparing London for extreme weather today and climate change in the future. Further details about LCCP’s partners.
    2. The Colne and Mersea Houses retrofit works included:
      Water saving features: replacement low volume toilets and baths, replacement low flow taps, new low flow showers and water meters.
      Overheating prevention: external cladding with light colouring to reflect heat, extraction fans and internal blinds in the windows on South and West aspects.
      Flood protection: reline existing drainage systems, one way flood valve to prevent ingress of water in case of flood, water boards on ground floor flats and water resistant cladding near ground floors.
    3. The retrofit project used LCCP’s guidance Your Home in a Changing Climate to identify the climate challenges the tower blocks will face over the century and the range of measures that could be incorporated to manage them.
    4. The Chair of LCCP, Sir Gerald Acher, is available for interview by arrangement – please contact Juliette Daniels, Partnership Manager for the London Climate Change Partnership: 020 7983 5781, Juliette.Daniels@london.gov.uk
    5. The Partnership has produced a number of key reports on the impacts of climate change on London and ways to address them. Review LCCP’s publications.

Further information about this story and the London Climate Change Partnership is available at: www.climatelondon.org.uk or by contacting Matthew Dear: 020 7983 5874, Matthew.Dear@london.gov.uk

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