Housing co-op takes home national award for energy project

The West Whitlawburn Housing Co-operative in South Lanarkshire hit success at the annual awards from the Chartered Institute of Housing in Scotland. The co-op received the top prize in the Environment and...

The West Whitlawburn Housing Co-operative in South Lanarkshire hit success at the annual awards from the Chartered Institute of Housing in Scotland.

The co-op received the top prize in the Environment and Sustainability Award category for its Biomass Energy Project, which serves 543 homes.

The judges were impressed by the way WWHC had combined significant environmental benefits by using biomass fuel and had helped address fuel poverty, a big challenge for the region.

Whitlawburn is recognised in the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivations as within the 5% most deprived zones in Scotland. According to a 2012 analysis by South Lanarkshire Council Improve, 25% of households in South Lanarkshire were in fuel poverty with a further 8% in extreme fuel poverty.

The housing co-op owns and manages 644 properties, 543 of which were eligible for the funding streams associated with this project. It invested £6.5m in the scheme, designed to boost the homes out of fuel poverty.

The project helped connect the 543 homes to a renewable biomass boiler through a district heating system. The biomass boiler provides a renewable heating source by burning woodchip.

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The project meant the co-op could freeze tenants’ energy bills for 27 consecutive months, until April 2017 . The scheme is also helping to prevent 48,600 tonnes of CO2 being released into the atmosphere over its 30-year lifetime.

Tenants control the flat temperature with a thermostat and radiators fitted with thermostatic radiator valves allowing room-by-room control. In addition, all flats are separately metered for heat and hot water, which means tenants pay for their actual use. Each flat has a smart meter allowing tenants to monitor their consumption and costs which has resulted in improved energy behaviour.

WWHC Committee members Susan Anderson (chair) and Anne Anderson (vice chair) accepted the award on behalf of WWHC at a ceremony in Glasgow.

Susan Anderson said: “It is a great honour to receive this award and the project is certainly ground breaking. It is fantastic our efforts have been recognised in this way.”

Anne Anderson added: “The project has been a very difficult project to finance and manage. It was not without its difficulties in the early stages, but it is delightful to see very high levels of tenant satisfaction with the project currently and also that the Institute has chosen to honour us in this way”.

The project has gained the attention of James Kelly, MSP for Glasgow, who lodged a motion with the Scottish Parliament, congratulating the housing co-ops on its achievement.

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