A group of Solihull residents have reduced their energy bills by 85 percent and dramatically cut their carbon emissions, thanks to an exciting project developed and led by Encraft. The £625,000 Innovate UK funded trial involved upgrading a block of six flats using Passivhaus principles, by way of an innovative off-site, wrap-around, large scale (OWLS) retrofit. The project went on to win the 2017 MEBC Award for Construction.

Encraft’s partners included Beattie Passive, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, Solihull Community Housing and Coventry University. The university provided a detailed analysis of the residents’ energy usage before the retrofit took place, and the timber frame was assembled offsite, which allowed the residents to remain in situ throughout the work, so minimising any disruption to their lives.

The wrap-around system was injected with insulation and provided the building with a highly efficient, air-tight outer layer, with no thermal bridges. When fitted, it gave the flats a completely new external façade and roof. They were also fitted with high performance windows and doors, as well as a mechanical ventilation heat recovery  system.

OWLS is an exciting, new, ‘whole building’ approach to large scale retrofit and can regenerate existing housing stock to a near zero carbon standard. The benefits provided by these energy upgrades are numerous and include lower energy usage, cheaper bills, healthier living conditions and dramatic reductions in carbon emissions. The OWLS retrofit solution also provides training and labour opportunities to the same local communities whose living conditions it does so much to improve.