A NORTH-EAST housing association has started a trial aimed at developing a blueprint for energy-efficient homes across the region.

North Star Housing is using an empty property in Middlesbrough to test new designs and advanced technology as part of its drive towards decarbonising its stock of homes.

The house at the centre of the experiment is a pre-1920s mid-terrace, town centre property that needed refurbishment – including a new kitchen, bathroom, windows, doors, and boiler – when the previous long-term tenants moved out.

The house had an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of F and North Star’s aim is to get this house as close to an EPC ‘A’ rating, with the remaining stock up to a C rating, or above by 2028.

Therefore, the association, which manages around 900 similar properties, decided it was the ideal opportunity to launch its first “Retrofit” trial to help develop a greener model.

Nicola Dixon, an Asset Management Surveyor for North Star and a qualified Retrofit co-ordinator, is leading the project with colleague Andy Moses.

The Northern Echo:

Nicola said: “We wanted to trial new smart energy-efficient technologies and designs, so we’ve stripped the house right back to be able to more or less start from scratch.

“We are looking to change the layout to a more open-plan design, with low-energy lighting, internal wall insulation, and a ventilation strategy that improves the air quality, while producing lower energy bills.

“It’s a question of trying to see what components work best, as we move towards developing a model that can be rolled out across this house type, this trial will help map out how we move forward and is an exciting and important stage in North Star’s journey towards decarbonisation.”

Emma Speight, Executive Director of Assets and Growth at North Star, added: “The aim is to reduce the carbon emissions from homes and make them more energy efficient and affordable for our tenants. This pilot project is a great opportunity for us to learn, understand and monitor the benefits of decarbonisation investment in a terraced property.” 

The renovation will also feature smart heating and hot water technologies – moving away from gas boilers – and cleaner internal air quality. Some of the property’s attractive external architectural designs will be retained.

The house is expected to be ready for new tenants in the autumn.

North Star’s ultimate aim is to decarbonise as much of its stock as possible by 2050.