On Friday 30th June, BHESCo and Community Energy South jointly hosted an event at the Linklater Pavilion in Lewes to introduce ‘RetrofitWorks‘, an innovative online community for generating business in the retrofit industry.

‘Retro-fitting’ means transforming our old, draughty homes to places which are more comfortable to live in, while being less expensive to run.

Over fifty attendees from across the construction sector came along to hear about the scheme and what it can offer.

Adam Bryan, Managing Director, South East Local Enterprise Partnership, spoke first, contextualising RetrofitWorks and the importance of industry co-operation in stimulating growth in the low-carbon sector.

Russell Smith (above right, founder of retro-fit specialists Parity Projects and RetrofitWorks) brought the audience up to date with the platform´s progress and the business it has generated so far.

He explained the benefits of joining the co-operative, which include:

    • Using the online Job Portal to easily identify and bid for work in the local area, receiving a percentage of any profit-share.

 

    • Using in-house training schemes to add certifications and lever procurement power for bulk buying discounts.

 

    • Growing business by generating new customers using low cost acquisition methods.

 

After a well-received buffet-lunch, attendees participated in workshops identifying the challenges and barriers to retro-fitting, and how to best engage potential clients.

Discussion was lively and productive, especially around public and private landlords, both seen as crucial to unlocking the potential of the industry.

At the end of the day we caught up with some attendees to get their feedback. Alex Hunt of Bright Green Homes told us:

“I´m a big fan of RetrofitWorks – it´s about time people worked together getting this agenda forward, and this is the start of something beautiful!”

While Donal Brown, Director of Sustainable Design Collective, said:

“Great day with a lot of solutions-based clarity. Not just well intentioned, the event delivered on professionalism.”

Zoe Osmond of the University of Brighton’s Green Growth Platform spoke of her hope to further the work already begun:

“Fantastic event to introduce this well-developed and visionary tool. I´m enthused and excited by the opportunity to contribute to RetrofitWorks’ supplier network. Our capacity for R&D, innovation, and data-analytics involving academics and students can contribute to and progress the research base.”

For more information on RetrofitWorks and how to join: http://retrofitworks.co.uk/

‘Warmth for Wellbeing’ was a pioneering 15 month fuel poverty intervention project that lasted from January 2016 – March 2017. Funded by the British Gas ‘Healthy Homes’ programme, the project was supported Brighton & Hove City Council and involved 13 partners from the community and voluntary sectors across the city, including Citizens Advice, Money Advice Plus, and BHESCo.


As of March 2017, the programme had provided direct support to more than 555 households, with BHESCo delivering 220 free home energy surveys and helping residents to save an estimated £34,000 on winter fuel bills!

The Universities of Brighton & Sussex were asked to provide an independent evaluation of the project, and concluded that Warmth for Wellbeing had a significant impact on the lives of vulnerable people living in cold homes in Brighton and Hove.

Paul Bramwell of Citizens Advice and lead co-ordinator of Warmth For Wellbeing, said that “the project has clearly reached some of the most vulnerable people across Brighton & Hove and it is pleasing that we have been able to help people who need it.”

BHESCo were acknowledged by clients and project partners alike as being a cornerstone of the project’s success, and were recognised as demonstrating a level of ‘care’ from an energy service provider that stood out as being in distinct contrast with how people are ‘normally treated’ by energy companies.

The full report can be viewed here.

Find out how to reduce your fuel bills and energy use by visiting our Energy Saving Service page.

BHESCo have been awarded £2,500 from Brighton Energy Co-op’s Community Fund to help reduce levels of fuel poverty in the city. The aim of the fund is to support either renewable electricity generation or energy efficiency measures. They have asked BHESCo to deliver free home energy surveys and implement measures for some of the city’s most vulnerable residents.

BHESCo have already completed over 200 free energy surveys around Brighton as part of a ‘Warmth For Wellbeing’ programme, making homes warmer and more comfortable while also reducing monthly energy bills for those who may struggle to keep up.

But with over 15,000 households in the area identified as suffering from fuel poverty, there is still a great deal of work to be done.

BHESCo’s CEO Kayla Ente said.

“We are grateful to Brighton Energy Co-operative for this opportunity to extend our work to more people in our city who are living in cold homes. We will do our best to reach as many people as possible with the funding they have made available for this vital work.”

Brighton Energy Co-op’s Community Fund is paid for by the Feed in Tariffs on BEC’s existing systems and by donations from members.

BHESCo is finalising its feasibility project to install a heat network connecting a school, a conference centre and two homes that are burning heating oil because they are off the gas grid. Our project proposes generating heat from locally sourced wood chip. The highly insulated flow and return pipes deliver heated water efficiently through the system to keep the residents and students warm in winter. The project is estimated to reduce their consumption of heating oil by 63,000 liters per year, removing 114 tonnes of carbon emissions from the atmosphere each year.
 
heat-network
 
This project was funded by the Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF) is a £15 million programme, delivered by WRAP and jointly funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). It supports rural communities in England to develop renewable energy projects which provide economic and social benefits to the community.
For more information on RCEF, visit http://www.wrap.org.uk/content/rural-community-energy-fund

2016 Annual General Meeting of Brighton & Hove Energy Services Co-operative Ltd

 

BHESCO are delighted to announce that we will be holding our second Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Thursday 29th September 2016 at Wagner Hall in Brighton (click for map).

The business of the evening will include:

  • The receipt of the accounts and balance sheet and of the reports of the Board.
  • The appointment of an Auditor, if required.
  • The election of the Board.
  • The application of profits.
  • Decide on the distribution of interest to members.

After the meeting there will be a social event with canapés and soft drinks where we will hear from Liz Whitehead of Fabrica art gallery on the relationship between art and the environment, Paul Pillai from Montessori Place about working with BHESCO, and Mark Kenber from Mongoose Energy on how community energy is changing the UK’s energy supply market.

All are welcome – we’d love to see you there!

 

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