Over the last couple of days we’ve finally had the chance to tally up the number of houses we’ve analysed through our CROHM stock assessment service for social housing, local authorities and private landlords, and it turns out that without realising we’ve passed the one million homes milestone! To mark that achievement, we’ve interviewed our Technical Director, David Shewan, who heads up the service.
What’s the history of CROHM?
Initially Parity focussed on providing advice on improving the energy performance of individual homes. But as we gained a reputation in that area, we started to get approaches from social landlords and local authorities as to whether we could offer a similar service for large portfolios of properties. We said “sure, why not?” – and CROHM was born.
How has CROHM evolved since then?
The initial tool was relatively crude, and it’s now a far cry from what we used for the first few projects. The analysis is much more automated, though there is still a lot of hands-on work and human intelligence applied in each assessment. We started off looking in a fairly basic way at the applicability of measures, and the effects they could have on energy and carbon use. Now we apply various “scenarios” that answer very specific client questions such as how to meet a given SAP target as cost-effectively as possible; the level of grant funding a landlord might attract; or what measures are going to reduce the risk of fuel poverty most successfully.
Has the industry changed much over that time?
Slowly, but yes. There is a lot to be positive about. When we started out with CROHM, relatively few landlords were particularly focussed on energy efficiency and now that is definitely no longer the case – it’s become a central feature of most organisations’ plans. The constantly changing funding landscape is an issue, although even when ECO was at its peak we often found that non-grant funded measures formed the majority of the most cost-effective measures. When CERT, CESP and ECO were at their peak, there was plenty of money around to galvanise organisations to look at retrofit, now it’s more of a challenge for clients to be ambitious but there are still massive and cost-effective opportunities – and that’s where CROHM comes in! If landlords are faced with trying to achieve a lot with reduced funding, there is no better way to get bang for their buck than doing a good assessment in advance.
So more clients are coming to you asking for assessments?
Yes, definitely. In the first few years of the service we did perhaps three or four assessments a year. That has gone up over the last couple of years, and we’re now getting close to the 100 project mark. That number includes a good number of repeat customers, which is very gratifying. As before, I think that the reduced funding situation has helped us in many ways as it’s made clients more conscious of the need to look carefully at the opportunities available to them and to seek to get the most from every pound they spend. We’re also lucky to have some great partners working with us on CROHM, such as Sustainable Homes and the London RE:NEW programme, both of which have done a lot to raise the profile of what we do.
What’s on the horizon for CROHM?
We’re constantly developing new capabilities. Each new client asks questions that we’ve not faced before, which means we’re constantly having to adapt and improve CROHM, and to create new analysis techniques. The next big leap, though, will come later this year when we hope to launch a service that will change the way that CROHM is delivered entirely – watch this space!