The invitation to our launch was a little cryptic, but now the covers can come off and we would like to introduce you to our new brand…
First, a few words about Green Tomato Energy. Formed in 2010, Green Tomato Energy was set up with the idea of doing something, anything, about our millions of wasteful buildings. There was, and still is, a massive amount of public interest in energy efficiency and the last 5 years have seen us help many people in achieving their aspirations for a low energy home. We have completed well over 400 projects and estimate that we have helped reduce the UK’s overall emissions by more than 1000 tonnes of carbon dioxide to date. But of course, the great thing about saving energy is that it’s a gift that keeps on giving – we estimate that our completed projects are now resulting in a saving of over 400 tonnes of CO2 every year from here on on in. That’s the equivalent of 30 car journeys from London to Manchester every day.
We’re hugely proud of what Green Tomato Energy has achieved.
But over the past couple of years, we’ve become a little frustrated. Frustrated for two reasons. We’re frustrated when projects we’ve advised on just don’t deliver. And we’re frustrated when potential clients just don’t seem to understand the potential benefits of what we’re offering. So we decided to do something about it.
We started looking at the first issue, why we see many projects where the aspirations of the client simply haven’t been achieved. It’s often nobody’s fault, it’s the fact that the golden threads of energy efficiency and comfort are sometimes lost in the competing priorities that always arise during a project. Let’s face it, building a house is a hugely complex undertaking – and refurbishment can be even more so.
It’s also because some of the building physics behind what we do is quite complicated, resulting in bespoke solutions and houses that simply don’t fit the norm. Hence, further down the line, the heating, hot water and control systems that get fitted may not be the right ones, and so may not deliver what’s required. So, because every problem is an opportunity, we decided to do something about it.
We realised that the only way that we were going to fix this was by taking end to end responsibility, so that what was envisaged at the start is what gets built. To test the theory, we’ve have run a few pilot projects over the past year where our clients have trusted us to manage the entire project through from initial concept, detailed design and also construction.
We haven’t done everything ourselves – we’re not structural engineers, quantity surveyors or architects. But what we have done is pull everyone together, managed the team and focussed everybody’s efforts on delivering the result. Where issues arose and compromises had to be made, we’ve ensured that priorities were maintained and the final performance of the building wasn’t compromised.
We’ve united the team in order to create a united home where efficiency and comfort go hand in hand. But we are a bit picky and we’ve made sure that we only work with the best people. People who share our passion for quality and efficiency.
Our first pilot was the conversion of Ibis House, a former bank in Richmond into 9 self contained apartments. Whilst the clients saw the comfort and efficiency benefits of what we were proposing, this also had to be a commercially viable project. So this wasn’t an easy ride. There are some boards with more details about the project around the room, but I’m happy to say that we completed the project in March this year and it came 3% under budget – a budget that was set before any energy efficiency measures were proposed.
For the engineers and architects amongst you, the building achieved a space heating demand of just 36 kWh/m2.yr delivered by internal wall insulation, exhaust air MVHR systems, triple glazing and excellent levels of airtightness. For everybody else, the apartments are cosy and warm, with consistent temperatures, fresh clean air all year round, no draughts, and are incredibly quiet. Initial feedback from the residents has been excellent and on the 11th April, the building was awarded ‘Small Project of the Year’ at the London Energy Efficiency and Retrofit Awards.
So, we proved the theory – having end to end responsibility for delivering the project means that the client gets what they wanted on time and on budget. But you’ll recall that we had another frustration – potential clients not understanding the benefits of what we were offering. Whilst many of our clients are passionate environmentalists, they are also people that simply want a warm, comfortable, controllable home – and for most, that’s what comes first. So, Green Tomato Energy has really been selling the wrong thing. We’ve been selling energy efficiency with comfort as a by-product. What we should have been selling is comfort and quality with energy efficiency built-in. This is more than a minor change in marketing strategy. This is a major shift and so required something a bit more drastic. Hence, the change to Enhabit.
Enhabit takes our experience as consultants, project managers and engineers to deliver what people really want – comfortable and efficient homes that simply work.
We’ve retained the Green Tomato foundations of solid science, Passivhaus principles, intelligent engineering and outstanding customer care. To this we’ve added end-to-end Project Management and the ability to carry out the actual build through carefully selected partners who will be part of the franchise. All this is supported by our ability to supply best-of-breed low energy products such as high performance triple glazed windows and Mechanical Ventilation systems. When added together, this gives our clients the confidence that the building will actually perform as intended.
That’s what people want – the certainty that what’s probably going to be the biggest financial investment of their lives is going to deliver them a fantastic living environment without costing the earth. And that’s what drives us, that’s why we’re here. We’re unashamedly passionate about this – we do what we do because we get to see people absolutely delighted with their comfortable new homes and showing off their tiny energy bills to all their friends. But, when those friends come round to visit, it’s not the energy bills that are the subject of the conversation. It’s the constant warm temperatures, fresh, clean filtered air, no draughts, no condensation, no mouldy corners – all no accident, all carefully engineered and all for a fraction of the running costs of a typical building.
We’ve thought about this quite a lot over the past few months and tested our ideas out on a number of projects. It really works. It enables us to deliver what the consumer really wants by freeing us from the constraints of only being able to deliver part of the equation.
As you can probably tell, we’re really excited about Enhabit. It’s our new baby, it’s only the beginning, and we look forward to working with you all to see it grow and develop over the coming months and years.