1. Modern insulation has saved thousands in bills for homes in Ironville

Energy efficiency collaboration warms hearts of award judges

A pioneering collaboration scheme to improve energy efficiency in homes in parts of Amber Valley has been shortlisted for a prestigious national award.

Amber Valley Borough Council, private property insulation firm Westville and Futures Housing Group combined forces to install high-quality insulation and/or solar roof panels in 250 homes across the region.

The joint effort has resulted in the partnership being announced as one of four shortlisted candidates in the ‘Collaborative Working’ category of the Building Communities Awards 2023, which is held in Leicester on March 3.

The Amber Valley scheme was made possible with grant funding totalling more than £1.7m from the Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The Midlands Net Zero Hub facilitated the scheme across the Midlands on behalf of BEIS to give local authorities in the region the best chance of success.

After successfully improving 68 homes in Ironville using an initial grant allocation of £440k, the collaboration effort was awarded a further £720k, later increased to £1.3m, which allowed the additional completion of work on 92 homes in Ripley and a further 90 properties across other parts of Amber Valley.

The scheme has reduced carbon emissions in Ironville by more than 36 tonnes per annum and saved participating households an average £315 per year in energy bills.

Meanwhile, work on the 92 properties in Ripley has saved homes an average of £540 per year, reducing the carbon emissions there by more than 83 tonnes.

David Arkle, head of housing and growth at Amber Valley Borough Council, said: “This is an all-round success story. A real lesson in the benefits of public-private collaborative working.

“We worked extremely hard to get Government money to spend in Amber Valley and we were determined to make sure that as many homes as possible would benefit.”

David said that the partnership managed to make the funding go further by working on clusters of neighbouring homes at the same time, enabling time, labour and materials to be pooled more efficiently.

He added that the professional collaborative approach gave residents the confidence to ‘take-up’ the home improvements on offer, where they might otherwise have been suspicious that it sounded ‘too good to be true’.

A number of challenges faced the project, not least by the fact that many of the renovations were carried out at the height of the Covid pandemic, which makes its success even more rewarding.

Sean Stevenson, managing director of Westville, said: "This is a great achievement and a credit to everyone involved in the project.

“It just goes to show how working together can make a significant difference and I would like to thank everyone at Amber Valley Borough Council and Futures Housing Group for all their help and commitment.

“It was such a refreshing approach from both and totally underpinned the delivery. This has to be the way in the future and I'm really excited for further ventures."

Darren Lewis, asset surveyor at Futures, said: “It’s really nice to be recognised for the work we’ve done on this scheme. The project has had its challenges, but we’ve overcome them, and it’s resulted in us delivering a good project. The feedback at all levels has been positive, so this nomination is nice to have it confirmed we’ve done a good job.”