Creating a Cleaner, Greener and More Comfortable Swale

A challenging and pioneering refurbishment project in Rushenden, Isle of Sheppey, is now complete, the results of which are hoped to be significant enough to offer the potential to develop a National Code for Retrofit.

External Wall Insulation (EWI) by Saint-Gobain Weber, the UK’s leading formulator and manufacturer of innovative energy saving solutions, has been specified to deliver dramatic improvements in the thermal efficiency and complete transformation of the aesthetic appearances of 65 properties, some of which are over 100 years old.The challenge has been to achieve a 40% carbon emissions reduction and associated savings on resident’s energy bills in a community which is experiencing fuel poverty.
The retrofit partnership between Swale Borough Council (SBC), AmicusHorizon Housing Association and The Homes & Communities Agency, covers both private and social homes and is reported to be the first of its kind.  Through the relationship with AmicusHorizon and their French partner Association, Pas de Calais Habitat, work is simultaneously being carried out within a community in the French town of Outreau.  In both locations the retrofit homes are the subject of the IFORE – the Institute for Sustainability on Innovation for Renewal.  At Outreau there are four distinct property types on four sites; in Rushenden there are seven property types but with varied types of construction.  This project is unique in that the estate is a mixture of social, private rent and owner occupiers, and phase one has wholly focussed on the private homes that were present before the social housing estate was constructed.

In addition to EWI the Rushenden retrofit programme has included the installation of double glazed doors and windows, solar panels, and central heating systems.  SBC is responsible for phase one of the programme which has been grant funded from the Regional Housing Board and the Government’s Community Energy Saving Programme, known as CESP.

Lawtech Limited, the Kent-based green property construction specialist, was appointed prime project contractor for this five-month programme and has provided total project management in addition to handling the entire EWI and render application work.  David Smith, business development manager, Lawtech, is pleased to have been part of this innovative project. “The weber.therm XM system is ideal for these types of buildings and really does change so much for the residents. The homes are now functioning correctly, look so much more attractive and the fuel bills will be cut substantially. The results from the Swale Retrofit project monitoring will surely become the performance benchmark for many similar projects in the UK.”

The properties are mostly of hard-to-treat solid brick construction and do not have the benefit of cavity insulation.  Lawtech specified Saint-Gobain Weber’s innovative weber.therm XM EWI system for these terraced properties.  As the system is applied to the external walls there is no loss of internal living space and avoids disruption to homeowners.  Negligible insulation has meant high energy consumption at a time of continuously rising energy costs.  The priority to substantially improve the thermal insulation of the properties, from a U-value of 1.97 W/m²K to a vastly improved target value of 0.30 W/m²K, has meant that these properties have experienced an almost immediate improvement in comfort and reduced energy consumption.  Calculations were prepared and submitted by Saint-Gobain Weber.

The BBA certified and Energy Saving Trust recognised weber.therm XM, one of several EWI systems by Saint-Gobain Weber, requires the application of mechanically fixed 100mm thick expanded polystyrene (EPS). The first application of 3mm weber.rend LAC is applied followed by the meshcloth reinforcement which is encapsulated in another 3mm coat of weber.rend LAC.  This is primed in preparation for the finishing coat of weber.plast TF150, an acrylic based decorative finish applied by float.

The results of this local retrofit project could produce findings that may be adopted under a National Code for Retrofit programme. The Homes & Communities Agency (HCA) is funding the Institute for Sustainability (IfS) to deliver a significant monitoring, measurement and evaluation programme throughout the life of the project. Data including internal and external thermography, temperature and humidity records, U-values and air permeability, energy usage and external weather recordings could be used to establish a performance code for retrofit. The academic research being undertaken by the Artois University in France will monitor the behavioural changes delivered by the project. The intention is that the Rushenden project will form the development of a legacy for skills and training in new and sustainable green initiatives and technologies.

Community engagement has been at the forefront of these projects and residents have been actively involved and kept fully informed. Reports of warmer and more comfortable homes are supported with positive appreciation of the visual aesthetic improvement of the area.

More information about Saint-Gobain Weber’s EWI and render products is available on 08703 330 070, or 028 9335 2999 in Ireland, or visit  Alternatively, a free download of the new for iPhone and iPad users is available from the iTunes app store which contains helpful product and application information.

600450 Creating a Cleaner, Greener and More Comfortable Swale
Date: 24 August 2012

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