Joint Press release: Bristol city Council and Sustainable Traditional Buildings Alliance (STBA)

A new and user-friendly online tool and complimentary guide was released today to help customers make more informed decisions about how to insulate their homes.  By showing customers what to look out for, Bristol City Council believes that the uptake of one of the most effective energy efficiency measures will be increased and the quality of installations improved.

Householders wishing to apply solid wall insulation (SWI) often find themselves in unfamiliar territory and lacking trustworthy and understandable information that will help them make the right decisions. The council, in partnership with the Sustainable Traditional Buildings Alliance (STBA), has developed guidance to help with this.

According to STBA, the toolkit is currently the most comprehensive and customer-focused guidance available. It takes a holistic “whole house” approach, which integrates energy efficiency, health and heritage issues in a joined up process.

The online survey-based tool takes users through a series of questions that helps them better understand their home, the choices available to them and potential issues that will need resolving before they can begin their installation. A simple animated video on the homepage helps to explain the whole house approach and how this helps to avoid risks to customers as well as how to increase the benefits for them.  The tool also links to other useful sites and is accompanied by a comprehensive guide providing more detailed information on the points covered online. Householders can benefit from advice on:

– Whether or not solid wall insulation is suitable for them
– Overall principles for successful and safe solid wall insulation
– Process for deciding what type (if any) insulation to install
– Planning conditions
– Technical considerations for design and installation
– Associated measures such as ventilation
– Project management and monitoring.

Although the guidance is targeted at householders, professionals and installers can also benefit from using the toolkit.

Mayor George Ferguson said: “Clear, practical advice is vital if we want to make sure retrofitting projects have maximum impact. By empowering residents in the decision making process, we’re making the delivery of solid wall insulation simpler and raising standards in the process. This builds trust and increases the popularity of solid wall insulation and the companies installing it.”

Inspired by the delivery of Bristol City Council’s residential energy efficiency scheme, Warm Up Bristol, the guidance has been developed with the specifics of Bristol in mind. It is hoped, however, that the toolkit will become good practice across the UK.

The Mayor added: “Retrofitting is making an essential contribution to the city reaching its objectives as European Green Capital 2015, and beyond.”

Training courses are being developed on the basis of the new guidance, targeting stakeholder businesses that can directly benefit from better understanding and explaining retrofitting options.  These will be part of a Bristol ‘kite mark’ scheme of approved contractors who will have exclusive access to work and funding under the Warm Up Bristol scheme.  In order to build knowledge and confidence, scheme-approved individuals will have had to pass a test and will be expected to undergo periodic quality assurance checks.  Targeted training and testing will be developed for:

1. Installers
2. Designers and assessors  (as well as other related professions)

Online toolkit and guide: