Pioneering retrofit scheme announced for Washington estate

We’re delighted to announce we’ll be delivering a pioneering retrofit scheme to make homes in Washington more eco-friendly, thanks to a partnership with Sunderland City Council and Engie. 

‘The Rise Project’ will see 46 homes in Washington have their energy credentials enhanced, with a project that will decentralise, digitalise and decarbonise homes, making them warmer, more comfortable, energy efficient and healthier places to live.

The project is being part-funded with more than £900,000 from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’s Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund Demonstrator (SHDF Demonstrator) programme - a £50 million scheme announced in July 2020 to support social landlords to demonstrate innovative approaches to retrofitting social housing stock at scale – and will see 46 homes undergo a range of improvements that will drive down their carbon footprint. 

The Rise Project will involve homes in the Fatfield area of Washington, taken off an existing district heating network, and fitted with a package of energy efficiency and renewable energy measures. Tenants will see their homes fitted with revolutionary infra-red radiant heating technology, solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, Sunamp battery storage and smart technology. The fabric of the properties will also be improved through the installation of external wall insulation to maximise thermal efficiency.

It’s hoped that The Rise Project will pave the way for further retrofit programmes in homes across the city, supporting Sunderland’s Low Carbon Framework that aims to reduce emissions and seeks to make the city carbon neutral by 2040, with Sunderland City Council itself aiming to be a carbon neutral local authority by 2030. 

Nigel Wilson, Chief Executive Officer at Gentoo, said:

“Gentoo is fully committed to supporting the carbon reduction targets set out by the Government and partners across Sunderland and I am delighted we have secured important grant funding that will enable The Rise Project to be delivered.

"The project will allow us to improve existing homes to ensure they are fit for the future, but more importantly, allow us to ensure the homes are more comfortable and warmer to live in for our tenants.”    

Councillor Rebecca Atkinson, Sunderland City Council cabinet member for Dynamic City, said:

“We’re delighted to be working shoulder to shoulder with Gentoo to take this important step to improve existing housing stock and make properties in the city greener. 

“Our Low Carbon Framework sets out an ambitious plan to deliver a carbon neutral Sunderland by 2040, and it is through programmes and partnership-working like this that we can decarbonise the city, and help enable residents to live more sustainably, to ensure we all play our part in a greener future. 

“We’re working to deliver more sustainable new communities across Sunderland, but existing homes are a huge contributing factor to the city’s carbon footprint, and retrofit projects like this will be critical to driving down emissions and ensuring the built environment supports our low carbon goals.  We’re delighted to have the opportunity to demonstrate this through this programme.”

The SHDF Demonstrator competition was launched in September 2020 and was open to applications from local authorities or from consortia led by local authorities for work on social housing stock or homes owned by a housing association. Gentoo has matched the SHDF Demonstrator funding with more than £730,000.

The programme fits with Sunderland’s Low Carbon Framework – backed by the council, Gentoo and a range of organisations and businesses – which provides a high-level strategic framework for how Sunderland will play its part in lowering emissions to become carbon neutral by 2040.  It focuses activity around seven strategic priorities, putting people at its heart - changing our behaviours, changing our organisational policies and practices, and setting out five thematic areas under which work will be taken forward. These focus on the built environment, green economy, low carbon energy generation and storage, consumption and waste, low carbon and active transport.