SHDF case study: "Together we can deliver more"
[5 October 2022] In our latest blog, hear from #RetrofitChampion Paul Norman at Clarion Housing Group on the benefits of being part of a consortium and the lessons they learnt.
Clarion Housing Group first got involved in the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund in 2020 through the Demonstrator project, where the organisation formed a consortium with Fenland District Council and Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council. The consortium delivered energy-efficiency upgrades in 120 homes across the two local authority areas. Since then, they’ve expanded their partnership to include the London Borough of Merton to begin delivering a Wave 1 project of 450 home upgrades – that's 570 upgrades in total!
Paul Norman, head of asset management at Clarion Housing Group, talked to us about the different challenges Clarion faced across the different local authorities, with non-traditional, Wimpey no-fines in Tonbridge, and off-gas properties in Fenland.
He said, “it's good to see the comparison of the two different types once you've done the similar type of works to see how they pan out." In Tonbridge, the properties have reached EPC B, while the properties in Fenland have achieved EPC A. “Not only do they keep you unbelievably warm in the winter … they keep you unbelievably cool in the summer.”
"Everyone in the team has increased the learning because they all felt there was something in it for them."
One of the key benefits of forming a consortium for Paul was the transparency of having more people involved in the process. “All of that shared learning is had in the room with everyone”, including with their consultants and delivery teams. They have had two separate contractors working on the different sites but developed a strong practice of sharing lessons between them. “Everyone in the team has increased the learning because they all felt there was something in it for them. The more they could learn, the sharper their prices could be.”
One of the big challenges they had to overcome was extending external wall insulation (EWI) below the damp proof course. Paul explained how the partnership enabled the team to find a solution that would work across both sites. They ended up using an EWI starter track: “an innovation that came out of the United Living [contractor] on the Tonbridge site is one that’s now adopted across both partners”. Paul added the contractors had each been out to visit the other’s sites and had “actually got quite excited about it … they have really embraced having to use their skill sets differently than they have done for a long time”.
"You have to have shared values if you want to genuinely improve your customers’ wellbeing"
The team at Clarion is now planning to share its experiences from the demonstrator and Wave 1 by leading its own consortium bid for Wave 2.1. Paul said the team will be learning from Fenland about the experience of leading a consortium to help Clarion effectively lead one of its own. The most important thing for Paul was “having a shared understanding and shared values about why you’re doing it.”
“You have to have shared values if you want to genuinely improve your customers’ wellbeing”.