FENLANDER: Wisbech flats at centre of pioneering low-carbon building project

TENANTS in three blocks of flats in Wisbech are to benefit from a pioneering research project aimed at helping businesses make the best use of technology to cut their energy costs.

Work on the flats will include changing their heating systems, generating electricity on site and using the most modern energy monitoring technology to keep costs down.

The project involves research into green construction technologies and “retrofitting” - the addition of new technology or features to older systems. It will run until 2014.

The flats that will be upgraded are Faith House, Hope House and Agape House, at Mill Close, Wisbech. They are all social housing run by the Luminus group.

The “SmartLIFE Retrofit for business” project will be launched at a special free event on December 5 at the Boathouse. The event will explain the research in detail and outline the potential benefits for local businesses. It will be open to any business with fewer than 250 employees, and free refreshments will be on offer.

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The scheme is a joint initiative involving Cambridgeshire County Council, Anglia Ruskin University, Fenland District Council and Luminus. They came together to make a successful bid for �200,000 from the European Regional Development Fund and Housing Growth Fund. That money will be used to part-fund the �500,000 project.

Aled Jones, Director of the Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin University, said: “Installing renewable energy technologies and then working with tenants and consumers on how to make the best use of them is critical to achieving carbon reduction targets and reducing fuel poverty.

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“It is also vital to support companies to take advantage of the market opportunities in the low carbon economy.”

The project’s findings will be used to help companies gain knowledge and experience of the benefits of different energy-saving systems which they can use to help them attract business or expand their range of services.

Other support for firms will include a series of information workshops, opportunities to observe firms already working in the low energy use sector and a chance to visit the Wisbech worksites during installation work.

Councillor Chris Seaton, FDC’s Deputy Leader and portfolio holder for economic development, said: “This project will help to identify which retrofit solutions are most effective, meaning better returns for businesses and greater reductions in carbon emissions. It will also help local businesses to take advantage of the growing energy efficiency sector.

“It is fantastic that social housing in Fenland will benefit from retrofitting while also contributing to improved understanding in this important sector.”

Chan Abraham, chief executive of Luminus, said: “We are delighted to be part of the SmartLIFE Partnership and are happy that some of our residents and homes in Wisbech will benefit. This is a great example of our 2020 Vision.”

• The launch event is at the Boathouse, Wisbech, on December 5 from 8am-noon. For more information or to book places, call Kat Von Glos at Cambridgeshire County Council on 01223 715950 or e-mail katherine.vonglos@cambridgeshire.gov.uk

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