Home Opinion Aico’s Fire and Carbon Monoxide (CO) Alarm Installation in Social Housing

Aico’s Fire and Carbon Monoxide (CO) Alarm Installation in Social Housing

PEW finds out about Aico’s longstanding relationship with Southend-on-Sea City Council and the installation of the council’s fire and carbon monoxide (CO) alarm systems in its social housing stock.

Southend has pledged to reach Net Zero emissions by 2030 and is now launching a proactive retrofit programme for its 6,000 homes, which currently constitute 46% of the organisation’s carbon footprint.

Supported by Ben Harrsion, finalist for Aico’s Rising Star award in the company’s 2024 Community Awards, the programme is currently implementing a wide range of projects from internal training and data improvement, to insulation projects including Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF) wave 2.1.

The standout initiative within this programme is the retrofit show home which opened in November 2023. By partnering with several council departments and obtaining support from the DEFRA funded ‘Catchment to Coast’ project, the housing team led a comprehensive retrofit of a solid wall 1950s semi-detached home which included:

  • External wall and loft insulation
  • Triple glazing
  • De-centralised mechanical heat recovery ventilation
  • Air source heat pump and electrical appliances
  • Solar panels with a 6kW battery
  • Grey water recycling Hydraloop that recycles shower water for toilet flushing
  • Sustainable drainage and Hydrorocks to reduce risk of flooding
  • Low maintenance bio-diverse and drought tolerant garden planting

Aico’s 3000 Series fire and carbon monoxide alarms and HomeLINK environmental sensors

The project stands out for its holistic approach to sustainability, which included using recycled materials, local products, and future-proofing the home from overheating and drought risks in the home.

Educational resource

Hosting 250 visitors, the show home served as an educational resource for the entire community and enabled the council to showcase exemplary practices. The test-and-learn approach to the show home also allows the project to inform which measures to roll out to the wider programme.

All retrofitting carried out in the show home adhered to PAS 2035 and will undergo ongoing assessment with Aico’s HomeLINK environmental sensors, which were used both prior to and after the retrofit to ensure that there are no unintended consequences, and that indoor air quality is being maintained moving forward.

Southend-on-Sea Council’s show home is fully equipped with a Category LD1 fire and CO system using Aico’s Grade D1 3000 Series multi-sensors, future proofing it for any revisions to British Standard 5839-6. By using Aico’s HomeLINK Gateway and environmental sensors, temperature, humidity and CO2 levels can be monitored, giving insight into issues such as damp and mould, indoor air quality, fuel poverty and void properties. This information is seamlessly transmitted to the online HomeLINK Portal, so that Southend Council and its property management company, South Essex Homes, can see in real-time exactly how the house is functioning and can intervene before any issues occur.

Ben Harrison, Housing Sustainability Officer at Southend-on-Sea City Council, says: “The retrofit show home involved taking a holistic approach to sustainable housing which meant that we installed a wide range of interventions. The project is designed to test the latest innovations to inform us on where we should focus our efforts in the wider retrofit programme. Aico’s environmental sensors are crucial for understanding the impact of these measures and ensuring that we continue to evaluate the performance of the home beyond installation.”

Proactive approach to health and wellbeing

The utilisation of Aico’s HomeLINK app for residents has played a significant part in this project, enabling residents to take control of their own environment and take a proactive approach to their health and wellbeing. The app facilitates direct real-time communication between Southend Council, South Essex Homes and the tenant through its messaging feature. In addition to this, Southend Council and South Essex Homes have collaborated with Aico on Smart Meter Integration, to offer the tenant and council an additional dimension to the app.

This system has garnered positive feedback and is not only being implemented in SHDF trials and void properties equipped with environmental sensors, but has also prompted a Category LD2 upgrade programme across all of Southend Council’s properties. This initiative underscores the commitment to prioritise tenant safety and compliance for both the council and South Essex Homes.

Southend Council’s retrofit programme has enjoyed remarkable success, achieving such acclaim that it has been honoured with the following awards and nominations:

  • Winner of ACES Retrofit Housing award 2023
  • Highly Commended at Essex Housing Awards’ 2023 (Retrofit)
  • Shortlisted for RICS’ Eastern Region
  • Shortlisted for MJ Awards’ Innovation in Delivering Sustainability and Social Value
  • Shortlisted in the Unlock Net Zero Awards

Steve Morl, Mechanical & Electrical Engineer at South Essex Homes, says: “Following on from the success of our show home we have been very impressed with the information that we are receiving, we are now extending this to all our SHDF homes, as we now have the ability to monitor and manage our stock by using the data on the portal. We are intending on rolling this out to our housing stock over the coming months in particular the higher risk properties bringing them up to LD2 standard.”

Forward thinking

Matt Golding, Regional Specification Manager at Aico, concludes: “The retrofit housing project that Southend Council and SEH have been tirelessly working on has really yielded some great insights across all aspects of the property, a real success and credit to them working to BS5839-6 Category LD1 and the forward thinking use of our environment sensors has future proofed this property for the eventual tenants and will provide them with great insights as to how the property environment is working and also how efficient Southend Council have made the property. Maintaining their sustainability and compliance drive, Southend Council and SEH are now rolling this process out to all the properties involved in their SHDF project and will be installing Aico Gateways in all properties across the next few years.”

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