Making the UK’s social and low-income housing more energy efficient

In the Liverpool City region of the UK, social housing units produce 560 kilotons of CO2 every year. The EU-funded REECH project used a public-private partnership to provide renovations that increase a home’s energy efficiency, thus making life easier for scores of people who cannot afford heating costs.

Additional tools

External wall installation in Halton  © Mike Henesey External wall installation in Halton © Mike Henesey

" Fuel poverty is one of our biggest challenges, and REECH has saved people money while simultaneously reducing carbon use. The project has also boosted low carbon companies and created jobs. "

Mike Henesey, Head of ERDF Project Delivery, NW Growth Delivery Team, MHCLG

Older neighbourhoods are known for their charming houses. And while full of character they may be,
energy efficient they are not. In the UK alone, housing accounts for nearly a quarter of the country’s total annual CO2 emissions.

The bulk of these emissions come from clusters of homes located in impoverished neighbourhoods. In the Liverpool region, residents of its significant number of social housing units live in fuel poverty. They have low incomes or live in homes that cannot be kept warm at reasonable cost. According to 2005 statistics, these social housing units account for one fifth of the region’s total housing stock and are responsible for producing 560 kilotons of CO2 every year. 

Reaching out

As most of these houses are structurally sound, they are ripe for renovation. To help overcome the impediment of costs, the EU-funded REECH project established a public-private partnership with such housing partners as the Groundwork Trust to provide green retrofitting to the Liverpool region’s plethora of social housing units. 

To start, the team undertook energy and resource efficiency assessments at businesses within the city region. They piloted the retrofitting scheme by installing energy-efficiency measures at the premises of these businesses. After a period of evaluation and fine-tuning, the measures were implemented at social rental units in the Merseyside and Halton communities. The result was a reduction in CO2 emissions and fuel poverty levels and an increase in residents’ overall wellbeing.

Substantial results 

REECH has made a major difference to the lives of thousands of people who need it most, by reducing energy bills and making their homes warmer and more energy efficient. In total, REECH delivered 21 demonstration housing retrofit schemes across the city region. A total of 5 043 individual energy efficiency measures were installed in 3 375 homes – the vast majority of which are located in some of the area’s most deprived neighbourhoods. 

These measures included the installation of 1 000 solar-powered water-heating roofs, 2 000 solid wall insulation fittings and 1 500 micro-generating energy sources. This resulted in a carbon reduction of 20 736 tonnes within the five years of the project. Researchers estimate that over the course of the retrofits’ lifetime, the project will have contributed to a reduction in CO2 emissions of over 188 000 tonnes.

By increasing demand for low-carbon technologies, the project helped create new business opportunities for local suppliers and contractors working in the green energy sector. Forty local businesses were engaged in the project, leading to the creation of 16 new or improved products and services and 335 jobs.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Renewables & Energy Efficiency in Community Housing (REECH)” is EUR 31 726 991 (GBP 27 878 900), with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 15 863 405 (GBP 13 939 448) through the North West Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period. The investment falls under the priority “Support the shift towards a low-carbon economy in all sectors”.


Draft date