Do you wonder what Croydon Council’s policies and actions are on tackling fuel poverty and energy efficiency? The following explanation (8 April) is in response to a Freedom of Information request I submitted. I drawn the Opportunity and Fairness Commission’s attention to it.
Does it monitor the application in Croydon of utility companies debt and debt management and disconnections?
The council does not monitor this, nor would the council have access to the individual debt status of residents. Disconnection of household supplies is now a fairly rare event and can only occur after the utility company has offered the customer a reasonable repayment plan. In the last resort, the utility company will need to apply to the courts for a right of entry warrant to disconnect the supply.
When was the last time it rated the energy efficiency of its building and of the private housing stock?
There are a number of methods that the council uses to rate the energy performance of its building stock:-
- Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) – This is rating certificate that is calculated on the ‘as designed’ energy performance of a building. An EPC has to be obtained when a building is constructed, rented or sold. EPCs are obtained for council homes when there is a change of tenant, or a right to buy. EPCs are also obtained when any council owned non-domestic building is let to a third party.
- Display Energy Certificates (DEC) – This is a rating that measures the actual energy performance of non-domestic buildings (it does not apply to dwellings). Public buildings that are accessible to the general public and over a set threshold floor area must obtain a DEC which must be renewed annually. The council secures DECs for its eligible non-domestic buildings as and when they expire.
- Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) – This is the government standard method of calculating energy ratings of dwellings. The SAP measures the ‘as designed’ performance of a building. A reduced data-set version of SAP forms the basis of the EPC rating calculation. The council holds detailed information on its own social housing, this data can be used to calculate SAP ratings. The council reports on the average SAP rating of its housing stock to central government on an annual basis.
The council commissioned the Building Research Establishment (BRE) to undertake a stock modelling and analysis exercise of its private housing stock in December 2014. This analysis included EPC rating based on “SimpleSAP” – this is a simplified version of SAP which uses a reduced set of data which is not sufficient to generate a certified EPC.
What measures did it undertake each financial year since the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995 came into operation?
This data is not compiled and is not available. Croydon has delivered numerous programmes of work to its social housing stock since this date. These include major programmes of work to replace heating systems, insulate lofts and cavity walls, replace windows and to install external wall insulation.
For Croydon’s private sector stock the council has delivered many programmes that secure energy supplier funding to provide fully and part funded energy saving measures. Along with other south London boroughs, Croydon has also funded the “Coldbusters” scheme over many years. This scheme provided fully funded energy saving measures to households in receipt of key benefits.
More recently, Croydon has successfully secured funding from each phase of the Mayor of London’s “RE:NEW” programme which delivers energy saving measures to households.
Which staff are trained in energy rating the properties they have to visit?
Both EPCs and DECs have to be obtained via certified assessors. The council secures such energy rating services via competitive tenders. Contractors are required to comply with statutory and other provisions including in relation to assessments.
How many properties with low energy ratings have been identified as being lived in by people on low income or with health vulnerabilities, and what steps have been undertaken to assist with energy efficiency measures?
Croydon council currently collects information relating to the energy performance of its housing stock but we do not hold comprehensive information relating to the income or health of its tenants. Work is ongoing to identify improvements to the thermal performance of council properties with low ratings, for example loft and wall insulation, double glazed windows and new heating systems.
The BRE commissioned analysis (referred to in response to Q2) has produced a database of private sector stock for which the following indicators have been modelled:-
- “Housing Health and Safety Rating System” hazards – e.g. falls and excess cold
- Fuel poverty – using both the previous 10% of income definition and the government’s new definition based on “low income, high costs”.
- Proxy SAP rating (i.e. not an rdSAP or full SAP rating)
While the database and analysis has not been fully signed-off, it will enable the council to identify the proportions of private stock with low SAP ratings which are occupied by those on low incomes. Once signed off, we will publish the high level findings through the housing strategy evidence base, and can supply detailed findings.
(6) How many of the households under (5) include children aged 0-5, people with health vulnerabilities, and pensioners aged 75+,
Croydon council do not hold comprehensive information relating to the income or health of its tenants.
(7) Does it have a map showing the ranges of energy efficiency rating in different parts of the Borough?
It has not been possible to generate a map of the energy efficiency ratings across the different parts of the borough. However, please see the table below outlining the number of council properties in each RdSAP band by ward.
|NUMBER OF PROPERTIES BY RdSAP BAND||RdSAP BAND|
|OUT OF BOROUGH||27||9||2||38|
|SELSDON & BALLARDS||2||20||6||28|
Private sector stock
The BRE model can be used to map energy efficiency ratings of private sector stock across Census Output Areas.
What energy efficiency measures are contained in the Council’s specifications for work to its housing and non-housing properties?
Through the existing planned maintenance and improvement contract and the responsive repairs contract works are undertaken that improve the energy performance of the housing stock. These include:-
- boiler replacements
- new central heating installation (where it does not currently exist)
- hot water cylinder insulation
- installation of thermostatic radiator valves
- loft insulation top up (where it is currently below 100mm)
- cavity wall insulation (where it does not currently exist)
- solid wall insulation (where practicable)
- installation of double glazed windows
- energy efficient security doors (where a specific need has been highlighted)
- energy efficient fire RRO doors (where a specific need has been highlighted)
Many measures that will save energy are installed via planned maintenance and capital investment programmes. For example where a boiler or chiller system has come to the end of its life it will be replaced by plant which meets current standards and performance requirements which are more efficient. Outside of planned replacement programmes, the council has managed a dedicated energy efficiency investment programme using the central government “Salix” loan fund. This provides interest free loan finance for energy saving measures (which achieve up to a 5 year payback time). The loan is then repaid via the energy savings achieved. The council has recently opted to use the GLA “RE:FIT” energy performance contract framework to deliver packages of energy saving measures to its assets. The RE:FIT provider surveys buildings and recommends a package of energy efficiency measures that will meet the council’s performance requirements (i.e. a target level of savings and maximum payback time). If the council agrees to install the recommended measures, the RE:FIT provider guarantees the performance of the measures and backs this up via ongoing detailed monitoring and verification.
When it identifies the need for a property to have works such as roof and window repair or renewal, does it automatically undertake an energy rating to identify what additional works could be implemented e.g. to prevent heat trapped by improved windows and doors going straight out an un- or under-insulated roof?
Croydon council do not automatically undertake an energy rating before works are completed. Works are planned based upon the age and condition of the building components, including any health and safety risks, that have been highlighted as part of a stock condition survey. Where possible works are packaged in related components, for example new boilers, hot water cylinder insulation, thermostatic radiator valves and loft insulation top-up.
How many Council owned houses and flats:
Do not have a heating system serving every room
Only have partial central heating
And what is the work programme to ensure heating system improvements in Council housing?
There are 86 properties that do not currently have a central heating system. This is where the tenant has refused the installation of a central heating system. A central heating system will be installed to these properties where it is requested by the tenant or when the property next becomes void.
The current boiler replacement and new central heating system installation programmes are valued at circa £4m per annum. These programmes aim to replace inefficient boilers with more energy efficient boilers to help reduce the fuel bills and fuel poverty.
In each of the financial years 2011-12 to 2013/14 what negotiations with energy companies resulted in cheaper fuel supplies for Council buildings including communal heating systems?
The council does not ‘negotiate’ with energy companies on energy prices. The council currently purchases energy supplies via the Crown Commercial Services (CCS) frameworks for ‘flexible wholesale’ energy contracts. For such contracts, the council’s agent (CCS) purchases wholesale raw energy (gas or electricity) directly from the wholesale market, rather than relying on the supplier to do this. This approach allows the council to manage the risk of the highly volatile energy markets.
If savings were made under (11) were these ear-marked to fund additional energy efficiency measures in the building stock?
Savings cannot be guaranteed as prices depend on highly volatile commodity markets.
The council’s energy purchasing approach is geared to managing the risk of these market prices. It would therefore also be unwise to link investment in energy efficiency to reductions in energy prices as this funding would also be volatile.
What is the Council’s planning policy with regard to requiring the installation of energy and water efficiency devices in designs for new and converted housing, retail, leisure and employment developments?
Croydon Council’s policies for new-build and converted buildings are as follows:-
- All new dwellings must achieve the Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4 standard.
- All new non-domestic buildings above 500m2 floor area must achieve the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) “Excellent” standard
- All new build domestic developments of 10 units and above must achieve 40% reduction in CO2 emissions (below Building Regulations 2010).
- All new build non-domestic developments of 1,000m2 and above must 40% reduction in CO2 emissions (below Building Regulations 2010).
- Major domestic conversions must achieve BREEAM Domestic Refurbishment “Very Good” standard.