Retrofitting social housing: Barking & Dagenham

The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham recently carried out a major retrofit of two tower blocks to improve them in line with Decent Homes guidelines. As part of the project LBBD received a grant from the Greater London Authority to include a range of climate change adaptation (and mitigation) features.

The retrofit used London Climate Change Partnership’s guidance Your Home in a Changing Climate as the blueprint for the adaptation features within the retrofit. This is the first time that the guidance has been used for such a large scale project.

Adaptation features included in the retrofit:
• Overheating prevention: external cladding with light colouring to reflect heat, extraction fans, blinds in the windows on S and W aspects
• Water scarcity: replacement low volume toilets and baths, replacement low flo taps, new low flow showers, water meters
• Flooding: reline existing drainage systems, one way flood valve to prevent ingress of water in case of flood, water boards on ground floor flats, water resistant cladding near ground floors

Additional features of benefit to the residents:
• Energy efficiency: new centralized gas heating instead of storage heaters, heating meters, energy efficient lighting, triple glazed windows, PV on the roof
• Security: door entry systems, CCTV
• Convenience: both lifts can now stop on all floors (used to be alternating), new centralize television satellite system
• Decent homes: new kitchens, new bathrooms

In addition to the high specification of climate change measures, the retrofit was ambitious because the extensive and intensive work occurred whilst the residents were in situ.

Because there is a great deal of housing stock of a similar age and type in this country, LCCP are producing a findings and recommendations report to learn as much as possible from this project – highlighting the most successful aspects of the work, lessons learnt, cost-benefit and scalability.

The evaluation report was published in January 2013 – download Your social housing in a changing climate.