Elizabeth House Community Centre

Solar PV, energy cafés, energy efficiency measures • Site-owned • Complete February 2019 & December 2019

About

Elizabeth House (EH) is a thriving community centre in the heart of Highbury providing a number of services and activities:

  • Affordable after-school childcare services for children age 4 to 13 to support working families
  • A Youth Club for local young people age 11+
  • Health and wellbeing activities for women and families
  • A food hub for the local community
  • IT training and employability programme for young people
  • Affordable space for local community groups, service providers and members of the community to engage on relevant issues

Funding & delivery

This was a multi-stage project and covered a number of aspects of feasibility and energy efficiency at EH in addition to the installation of solar panels.

Nathalie Renaud, the EH Director, approached Power Up North London early in 2018 for support with making a grant application under the Islington Community Energy Fund (ICEF). 

PUNL worked jointly with EH on two successful ICEF grants for £1,750 and £14,800 to deliver:

  • A feasibility study to install PV solar panels that would generate clean energy for the centre and reduce its energy bills  
  • A feasibility study to look at other energy saving options throughout the centre, for instance, battery storage, LED lighting and more efficient heating to lower carbon emissions and reduce running costs, and to invest the savings in enhancing community services
  • A needs assessment for running an energy café at EH, where Islington residents could come to receive advice on their energy use and support to fight fuel poverty
  • Works to reinforce the roof in preparation for installing solar panels
  • LED lights throughout the centre

PUNL undertook the end-to-end project management starting with the feasibility work and later supporting EH to deliver both the LED lights and the solar panels. PUNL also supported EH with all the grant applications to the ICEF (£16,550), the LCEF (£2,700) and UKPN Power Partners (£18,000).   

In the post-delivery phase PUNL evaluated the impact of the LED lights and solar panels and supported EH with drafting the post-implementation monitoring reports to the ICEF and UKPN Power Partners Fund. PUNL continues to monitor the effectiveness of the solar panels.

Benefits & impact

The LED lights and solar PV installed at EH have delivered environmental, social and financial benefits to the Centre.  

By May 2020, electricity consumption had fallen by 40% versus the comparable period before the LED lights and solar panels were installed, delivering carbon savings of 1.5 tonnes and financial savings of £770. The financial savings enabled EH to introduce two new critical services:   

  • Weekly lunch club for isolated and inactive elderly people
  • Weekly lunch and play for families affected by food poverty

The solar panels have made the building more attractive in that people are immediately made aware that electricity is being generated through a solar energy.  

Since 2019 EH’s footfall had increased by 20%. Their room usage has also increased by 25% in the 6 months to April 2020 and they directly served over 5,000 local residents including babies, children, youth, adults and elderly people through their programme of activities.

Project deliverables

Planning permissionPermission was not required as the site fell under the permitted development category
EPC certificateObtained in May 2018 – rating D91
DNOThe District Network Operator (UKPN) approved the connection in September 2018
Structural surveyThe roof structural survey was conducted on the sports hall roof in April 2018 and concluded that the roof should be reinforced. PUNL advised EH to use the high roofs at the front of the building instead as the generation would be sufficient to meet their needs and this would avoid the high cost of reinforcing the sports hall roof. However, the subsequent survey of the front roof was delayed due to works needed to create inspection hatches. This work was eventually completed in autumn 2019 so that the installation of the solar panels could be carried out.
On-site demand EH was expected to use 80-90% of the solar electricity generated 
LED lightsThese were installed throughout EH in February 2019. By May 2020 PUNL’s monitoring showed that electricity consumption had fallen by 39% compared with the previous year which was saving EH £800 annually in electricity costs.
Solar PV installation R-Eco installed the solar panels in December 2019 and as of July 2020 the panels had produced 3.8 MWh of electricity and earned £485 for EH. 
DisplayInnovative design created by EH and situated just by the entrance to the centre