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SuperHomers No 9 Newsletter

John and Gabby proudly accepted
the Sustain award for
Communication of behalf of
SuperHomes on 1st March.
Particularly pleasing was to see that
a number of other SuperHomers
were nominated for awards too,
including Tom Lipinski (No. 72) and
Dave Hampton – (No. 14)
Oliver Heath, (No.75) has been
awarded the British Institute of
Interior Designs retrofit competition
for his home’s refurb and was
presented the award by Wayne
Hemmingway of Red or Dead fame.
For more information see
There are quite a few awards out
there and it is good to know that
SuperHomers are applying for, and
winning, these with more and more
regularity. Please do let us know if
you win anything, it is always nice to
hear about how others are getting
SEA is not just about opening
homes to the public, we are also
involved in lobbying government and
John is now sitting on one of the four
Green Deal forums - the one dealing
with Maximising Take-up run by
Andrew Warren.
John was also recently interviewed
by the Green Alliance and the
resulting article was published in
their Feb 2011 magazine. The full
text was reproduced on their blog
and can be viewed here
Our major achievement this month
has been the granting of our patent
for WHISCERS – the Whole House
In Situ Carbon and Energy
Reduction Solution (Gabby made up
the name!). This is a unique process
which enables the installation of
internal insulation with virtually no
mess. It saves time on site and
substantially reduces waste, both
onsite and in production. The whole
process is so easy that it allows the
insulation to be installed with
residents in-situ. For Social Housing
this avoids the needs for costly
Our first small scale trial of the
system was in Bertram Street in
Camden, as part of the Technology
Strategy Board’s Retrofit for the
Future project.
We worked in partnership with Parity
Projects (Russell Smith is
SuperHomer No. 3) who have
managed all the modelling and
monitoring of the property, United
House who were the main
contractors and Camden Council
who have long been innovations in
this field (Camden council already
provide Superhome No 15 – St
Augustine’s Road). The trial was
completed at the beginning of
November and has been opened on
a number of occasions since then.
Bertram Street is now SuperHome
(No. 78) and in the recent Spring
Openings it was Tom Clyne, the
residents, rather than the council
who took the tours. WELL DONE
TOM! This gave a slightly different
perspective to the information given.
Tom and Yvonne lived through the
works, but had very little input into
their design. They can talk of the
results and the disruption of the build
works. Other home improvements
works were completed at the same
time as WHISCERS, including the
installation of a new kitchen and
bathroom; solar thermal and PV;
damp remediation works and even
the removal of some asbestos.
The picture shows the insulation in
pre-cut panels sent to site. It is also
just possible to see that channels
have been removed on the rear of
the boards to accommodate cabling
and trunking on the wall. United
House are now beginning a larger
scale trial in Islington.
Numbers are still coming in from the
Spring Openings, which this year
appear to have been a fairly mixed
bunch. We had a lot of national
publicity and a peak of almost 2,000
visitors a day to the website. Kit
Knowles (No. 93) in Manchester
seems to be our winner so far with
175 visitors, but we had a few
homes which had fewer than 10.
This probably needs a little
investigation as it would appear that
the more rural homes require either
a local event, such as a Transition
Towns or Green Group fair to
generate the visitors, whereas, the
more urban homes appear to
generate visitors more easily. This
is probably as much to do with
available populations as anything
else, but worth looking into.
Issue No.9
I know this all seems a bit too early,
particularly for those of you who
have just opened, but the London
Open City people are asking for
details of proposed September
Openings already. This year’s event
is 17th and 18th September, but their
cut off for information, if you want an
entry in their printed guide, is 31st
May. (Heritage Open Days on the
other hand won’t need information
until 1st August – their openings are
8 – 11th).
If you do want to be involved with
London Open House then please
either apply to them direct – email or
send Camille an email and she can
We wanted to let you in on some big
changes that are afoot. We are
moving on from the www.sustainableenergyacademy. name to using
the new
URL. We also have a New logo,
hope you like it. The idea is to make
the project look a little more modern,
and also to capitalise on the number
of people searching for SuperHomes
on the internet and the ease by
which SuperHomes is remembered,
in contrast to sustainable energy
academy, which was a bit of a
mouthful. The full name will not, of
course, disappear as this is the
name of the charity, but the old site
will be redeveloped to show all the
projects which SEA is involved with,
including WHISCERS mentioned
Andy Maybury (No. 84) and our first
Scottish SuperHomer, mentioned
in the last newsletter, has already
had a visit from his local MSP. John
Lamont visited Andy’s home in
Hawick in the Scottish Boarders and
heard all about the great things Andy
had done to achieve his 71% carbon
saving. Getting MPs or local council
officials is a great way of spreading
the word and getting the message
out to people who can affect
Dr Tina Fawcett, (No. 62) an Open
University Lecturer and senior
researcher at Oxford’s
Environmental Change Institute is
working to get the message out by
providing videos of the works as she
undertakes them.
Tina writes “ I live with my husband
Richard and our two young children in
an Edwardian semi in Oxford. I have
been working as an energy policy
researcher, focusing on household
energy use, for several years. Although
we’ve reduced our carbon emissions in
various ways over the years, it wasn’t
until last year (2009), when we added
solid wall and under-floor insulation,
that our house really became a
Our motivations for reducing energy
use and carbon emissions are concern
about climate change, wishing to live in
a more comfortable house and (in my
case) not wanting to be an energy
hypocrite! Another reason for doing
the solid wall insulation was to resolve
condensation and damp problems. Our
house is a much nicer place to live in
now, and we hope by being part of the
Superhomes network that other people
can learn from our experience.
You can watch Tina’s film on You
This is a long Planning Permission
story, cut short, but I am sure if you
do want any more information
Robert Cohen (No. 54) will be happy
to supply it.
Robert designed the changes to his
Hackney property to incorporate a
solar thermal system on his loft
extension. Having the butterfly roof
so common in London the panels
would only have been seen from the
rear. At the last minute, for a
number of reasons, Robert had to
change the Solar thermal to PV.
This meant that the system, rather
than sitting 145mm above the roof,
now protruded by 585mm.
There were some complaints and
Robert was asked to “permanently
and completely remove” his system.
Robert, of course, went to appeal
and John appeared on his behalf.
We are delighted to hear that Robert
has now had his appeal upheld and
the enforcement notice quashed.
The Planning Inspectorate sited
Planning Policy Statement 5:
Planning for the Historic
Environment and emphasised that
“where a conflict between climate
change objectives and the
conservation of heritage assets is
unavoidable, the public benefit of
mitigating the effects of climate
change should be weighed against
any harm to the significance of
heritage assets”.
Furthermore In their decision notice
they cited Robert’s place as a
SuperHomer as being one of the
supporting factors. They wrote that
“there is considerable public benefit,
therefore, not only in the reduction in
carbon emissions in itself, but also
by providing an exemplar of what it
is possible to achieve”.
A final note on numbers. We are up
to 95 SuperHomes (Yippee). We
are now incredibly close to the 100
mark and with a number of ‘hot’
potentials waiting to be assessed we
really could be there any day now.
Please do let get in touch if you
know of any potential Superhomes
in your area