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'Green' sheltered housing open to bids

Solar, biomass and ground source heat pumps are all being considered by North Tyneside Council as it plans a £100 million revamp of its sheltered housing stock.

The council says renewable energy will be at the heart of the 24 schemes being built or refurbished in the Government approved Private Finance Initiative (PFI).

It has now launched the procurement process to secure a partner to deliver the project with work expected to start in 2010 and a finishing date set for 2016.

The sustainable credentials of the scheme will be checked through a partnership with Northumbria University.

Environmental Management graduate Alex Hope will work with the council as an ‘associate’  to assess the renewable energy potential of the sites and advise on the most appropriate technology to use.

Another associate, who is still to be appointed, will work on evaluating design proposals in terms of aesthetics, spatial layout and building construction.

They will liaise with contractors interested in tendering for the work to drive up standards and ensure the latest technologies and best practices are incorporated in the proposals.

Bill Frain, Knowledge Transfer Manager at Northumbria University, said: 'By informing the bids in this way the partnership will be able to generate higher quality sheltered housing, providing older people in North Tyneside with sustainable, healthy environments in which to live.'

Alex completed a dissertation on how renewable energy could be used to heat and power residential care homes during his BSc. He said: “'We don't believe there has been anything that's been done on this scale in the public sector before.

'I'm an environmentalist, I live in North Tyneside myself, and believe what I'm doing can benefit the whole community, not just older people.

'Research elsewhere has shown how the use of renewable energy sources within the built environment can make the community at large feel greater pride in where they live.

'My dissertation was almost like a pre-study to what I will be doing. I will be considering every renewable energy source and what would be applicable.

'Over the next couple of years there will be lot of changes as new cutting edge technology starts to break through, so it is set to be a really innovative project.'