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SoundScapeIssue 0224If you were asked to pick a building that demonstrated strong acoustic insulation and protected its residents from noise, a 24-storey, 1960s tower block next to a busy trunk road in West London may not be the answer that would spring to mind.However, in Shepherd's Bush, next to the gleaming new shopping paradise of Westfield, the three 1960s tower blocks which make up the Edward Woods estate are undergoing a transformation. This large scale residential tower block regeneration is perhaps the most comprehensive energy efficiency refurbishment of its type in the UK. The accrued benefits for residents in terms of noise protection, energy efficiency and fire safety are being hailed as a blueprint for local authorities across the UK.While the Edward Woods transformation is rightly motivated by a desire to cut the estate's carbon emissions and lower residents' fuel bills, the tower blocks' location next to the noisy A3320 means that the acoustic benefits of the refurbishment are just as critical.Government driven funding streams, such as the Community Energy Saving Program (CESP) - an obligation on energy suppliers to improve energy efficiency standards and reduce fuel bills in areas of low income - means there is funding available for local authorities to enhance the energy efficiency of social housing. The benefit of selecting a thermal insulation material that also provides strong acoustic properties and increased fire safety allows councils to effectively address multiple problems in one, and gain external funding to do so.The Edward Woods Estate refurbishment has been managed by Hammersmith & Fulham Council (H&F) with funding provided by British Gas. The refurbishment was designed by ECD Architects, with the firm focusing on finding an environmentally sustainable, acoustically sound and aesthetically beneficial solution to the council's energy inefficient 1960s estate.The 70 metre high concrete tower blocks were built in 1968, each containing 176 flats with no insulation, and their exposed position has meant that over the past 40 years the building structure has deteriorated, with significant cracks and gaps in the masonry further increasing levels of noise and energy inefficiency within the buildings.Building owner H&F have been keen to address this and to make the tower blocks a warmer, quieter, better environment for the residents. By choosing a comprehensive insulation partner, 'greening the buildings' with Rockwool has meant that H&F has also benefited from vastly improved acoustic insulation. To achieve the final result, Rockwool and construction specialist the Breyer Group, were recruited to join the partnership and implement the changes.The refurbishment is expected to be completed in 2012 and will see the Edward Woods estate transformed into contemporary looking buildings, with the grey concrete exterior wrapped in high grade external wall insulation and new penthouse apartments at the top of the buildings.To reduce costs, the renovations have been taking place while residents remain in their homes. To suitably protect them against the construction noise, Rockwool supplied 10,000 m2 of Rockshield External Wall Insulation which has been used to clad the north and south elevations of the tower blocks. Moreover, the external wall insulation has been integrated with 318 photovoltaic solar panels, generating 82,000 This large scale residential tower block regeneration is perhaps the most comprehensive energy efficiency refurbishment of its type in the UK. The accrued benefits for residents in terms of noise protection and energy efficiency are being hailed as a blueprint for local authorities across the UK regen p4kWh of electricity, to run lighting and lifts within the communal areas. The buildings have also been retrofitted with cavity wall insulation and flat roof insulation, while repairs to the structure of the building have been undertaken to wipe out the damp problem and improve the general internal environment within the flats.What sets Edward Woods apart is the scale of the redevelopment, and the investment, which has seen British Gas providing CESP funding to completely transform the estate. But the scheme has been more innovative than most in that it has combined thermal insulation with micro-generation and acoustic insulation to improve the quality of life and internal comfort for the residents.The scheme has also aimed to improve community pride and residents' enjoyment of the estate by making the buildings more attractive and redeveloping them as a positive landmark in this rapidly developing enclave of Shepherd's Bush. The residents have been closely involved in the re-development from planning stage and throughout the development, with architects ECD and construction partner Breyer working together to hold community engagement meetings to explain the work schedule, plans and the benefits of the new scheme, including the acoustic insulation. As a result, residents have chosen to makeover the exterior appearance of the concrete block with modern white hardwearing Rockpanel external panels on the east and west elevations.As the refurbishment project nears completion, it is attracting attention from other local authorities keen to utilise CESP funding in similar ways. With 6,000 tower blocks across the UK, many local authorities face a similar refurbishment challenge. Set against a backdrop of local authority spending cuts, the funding and schemes driven by the green agenda provide a golden opportunity for councils to refurbish social housing units and achieve more benefits for residents and the wider community than just greater energy efficiency. H&F Council and its partners on the Edward Woods refurbishment have demonstrated that by selecting products that deliver more than 'just' thermal insulation, additional benefits, including superiour acoustics, can be gained that enhance the lives of residents and help promote community pride.For local authorities in London, the redevelopment also has an additional urgency. The Rockwool insulation used not only provides acoustic and thermal insulation but, as it is created using natural stone, it provides unrivalled fire protection, something that is at the front of mind for many local authorities following a number of serious high rise fires; notably the 2009 Lakanal House fire in Camberwell, in which six people died.In 2009, Boris Johnston outlined his vision for new build homes in London, in the London Housing Design Guide, in which he stated that acoustic protection of new flats was a key design consideration, in addition to setting out minimum space and energy efficiency standards.What becomes the norm for new builds is almost inevitably going to roll out to existing building stock in the future. Capitalising on the CESP funding scheme to address both thermal and acoustic insulation, as well as fire protection, is likely to be a route that many local authorities will look to capitalise on.If councils can use the Green agenda to also address the issue of noise in buildings, then the benefits are potentially huge, for the health and wellbeing of residents, urban communities and the planet.Boris Johnston outlined his vision in the London Housing Design Guide stating that acoustic protection was a key design consideration for new flatsSoundScapeIssue 0225