History of the project
Retrofit MK has developed out of community-led action on energy in Wolverton which extends back over 10 years.
Between 2009 and 2011 a group of local people – the ‘Transition Wolverton Energy Group’- supported by the Energy Saving Trust, actively promoted ways in which local people could makes their homes more energy efficient.
They held a number of events and activities including a series of “open house” events where local residents showcased energy saving measures they had put into their homes.
Energy becomes a priority
In 2010 Future Wolverton undertook a consultation process to refresh the 20-year ‘Vision’ for Wolverton, and one of the clear priorities to emerge was concern about both personal energy use and climate change.
For this reason, the new 5 year Action Plan included a specific section on energy, and the ‘Future Wolverton, Future Energy’ project was developed.
Wolverton’s Conservation Area is made up of a series of streets, laid out in a grid pattern, of Victorian redbrick terraced houses. Other residential areas, including a large number of 1930s semi detached houses, have developed around this central core.
Many of the town’s 3,200 residential properties have solid walls. This means they cannot be insulated with cavity wall insulation and can be difficult and/or expensive to heat. This is one of the reasons why Wolverton has one of the highest levels of fuel poverty in Milton Keynes (according to the MK Affordable Warmth Strategy).
Following a successful application to the Department for the Environment and Climate Change in 2012, Future Wolverton and MK Christian Foundation were together funded to begin the creation of an Energy Efficient Demonstration Home. The funding also supported the first Future Energy Show in the town which took place in March 2012.
The partnerships that developed during the course of this project went onto create other opportunities for the Future Energy project.
In the Autumn of 2012, Milton Keynes Council agreed to set aside £25,000 of "Carbon Neutrality" funding for specific use in Wolverton. This money was used to support an information campaign about Solid Wall Insulation which took place in October 2012. The remainder of the funds were then available as grants to local residents to encourage the installation of solid wall insulation or floor insulation in Wolverton homes.
In January 2013, Future Wolverton was asked by the National Energy Foundation to take part in another project to promote the Government's Green Deal.
Specially trained volunteers carried out simple home energy surveys with Wolverton residents to establish if they could take advantage of the Green Deal. 180 homes had screening survey carried out, 12% of which converted into full Green Deal Assessments. A total of 43 Wolverton residents went onto to take advantage of the Government’s Green Deal programme.
Retrofit MK recently worked with 15 householders in Wolverton - with exposed / bare floor boards - to trial a smart ventilation system called Airex.
Airex is essentially an an 'intelligent air brick' that replaces the original air bricks (at sub-floor level) www.airex.tech
It helps reducing the home's heat demand through controlling otherwise uncontrolled airflow, whilst managing moisture in buildings. The system has in-built sensors to monitor and analyse the environmental conditions (such as temperature and humidity) and real time property diagnostics can help homeowners or landlords to undertake preventative maintenance - for example, flagging up indicators of damp.
The Airex system can be installed simply, quickly, hassle free - within 1-2 hours each home - and with no wiring or electrical work required. The installation work will be done by qualified installers.
The work was done free of charge, there will be pre & post monitoring to learn lessons.