NHMF Awards 2024 Delegates' Choice Winner:

Winner: Aster Group & Crystal Clear Window Works


Every year, we publish a summary of all our shortlisted entries to showcase our amazing nominees and promote best practice across the sector.

You can read more about the NHMF Awards here.  

NHMF Awards 2024: Delegates' Choice Award

Winner: Aster Group & Crystal Clear Window Works


Good environmental benefits achieved by a practical solution to support WIP management when clients analyse their repairs data. Renovating existing 'misted' DGUs reduces cost, CO2, glass waste, with increased completion on first visit, reducing the risk of delays and multiple visits typical of replacing DGUs. This is an initiative that can be replicated across the sector.

What was the project and what was innovative about the service provided?

Crystal Clear provides a unique and innovative repair solution for Aster for its failed, misted double-glazed window units (DGU). Failed DGU's would normally be replaced and the spent unit sent to waste streams. Crystal has a process for renovating the existing unit thereby extending its life for a further 10 years, such is its warranty period and in so doing it saves a significant amount of cost compared to traditional replacement activity. They also save a significant amount of glass waste from going to landfill and have dramatically reduced Aster’s CO2 footprint by avoiding the production of new replacement glass a process that is extremely CO2 intensive. This Innovation was necessary to Aster in order to find a way of reducing responsive repair costs, reducing the amount of avoidable waste generated and their CO2 footprint, and improving customer experience. It also means Aster could free up its own operative resource to take on higher priority repair work and help meet WIP targets.

What were the measurable benefits to the client, the contractor, the resident, and the neighbourhood?

Repairing rather than replacing failed DGUs has enabled Aster to provide a much-improved experience for its customers, delivered in a number of ways.

  • First Time Fix – the process is a first-time fix meaning they can complete their work in just one visit to the customer’s house rather than the 2 visits necessary for replacement. The 2 visits for replacement can and very often do become 3 or 4 visits when non-access, glass damaged in transit and missed measures are factored in. One of Aster’s priority goals is to improve its service to its customers by reducing the number of visits that are made to their homes to carry out responsive repairs. This in turn means the customer is not having to wait in for a visit to take place.
  • They Work From The Outside, so the customer also benefits from renovation rather than replacement because for the vast majority of repairs they work from the outside without having to remove the window they are working on. This means the customer doesn't even have to wait in for them and they can go about their day unhindered.
  • They Can Also Work From The Inside, where necessary to carry out their repair work. This means when high rise or tower blocks are involved, they can carry out a quick and convenient repair from the inside, avoiding a potentially extremely costly replacement for the client, and the high degree of inconvenience for the customer.
  • Improved Thermal Performance – their process has been tested by the University of Wolverhampton in terms of the thermal performance of a unit following repair, confirming that their process restores the thermal efficiency of a unit back to the level of a non-failed unit ensuring warm air transfer is kept to an absolute minimum. Report available on request.
  • The Wider Community and Social Value – at the very heart of their work is the drive for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way of working. They have so far reduced Aster’s glass waste by 177 tonnes and reduced their CO2 footprint by 192 tonnes. The total glass waste saving for all our Social Housing clients combined last year was 600 tonnes and the CO2 reduction was 652 tonnes. By practicing and promoting renovation and re-use over waste generating replacement they can better protect their shared environment and the wider communities that live and work within it. They strive to promote a more sustainable circular economy over the current environmentally damaging linear model and provide Aster with a report each quarter highlighting the waste savings achieved as tangible evidence of the Social Value this project is creating. A copy of the latest report is available.

What were the financial costs and measurable cashable benefits over a defined time period?

The measurable cashable benefits to Aster are 4-fold.

  1. Since this service began in May 2021, it has saved Aster more than £293,000 in cost or 46% compared to the cost of replacement.
  2. It has saved 176 tonnes of waste glass from being sent to landfill enough to cover Wimbledon Centre Court 73 times over.
  3. By avoiding the production of new replacement glass, Crystal has reduced Aster’s CO2 footprint by 192 tonnes, the same amount as that produced by a family size vehicle travelling 578,000 miles. Every 28 new DGUs that are manufactured generates 1 tonne of CO2 in the production process.
  4. Their repair process is a first-time fix repair compared to at least two visits to measure up and replace a double-glazed unit. These 2 visits can very often become 3 or even 4 visits when missed measures and non-access are included – very inconvenient for customers. The cost savings have been verified and have been proven to be accurate by comparing Crystal’s repair cost to Aster’s own historical replacement costs. The formulae used to calculate waste savings have been examined and verified by Carbon Footprint Ltd who are recognised and responsible for verifying CO2 reduction claims and predictions for many large blue chip and public sector organisations. Letter confirming verification available.

How relevant is this as an example that might be followed by other organisations?

This approach can certainly be replicated by any other Social Housing Organisation and it certainly has the potential to be adopted throughout the entire Sector. It is simply a matter of raising awareness that this repair process is available and what the added values are when compared to traditional replacement activity. Since this repair process is unique, it is not necessarily known about in every quarter of responsive repairs and asset management. The challenge is to raise awareness so that Housing Organisations are at least aware they have the option to renovate a component that would otherwise be considered spent and thrown into waste streams. Raising awareness by creating case studies and also submitting projects to events such as the NHMF Awards in the hope they may be recognised. The following is an excerpt from a case study they created for Aster on their work so far: - Paul Moody Responsive and Voids Contract Manager at Aster commented “Crystal Clear have become an integral part of our asset management strategy. They bring a modern and innovative approach to our day-to-day responsive repairs activity which delivers significant added value along with an improved experience for our customers” The full case study is available on request. They have also been successful in securing a place on Procurement For Housing’s SHED framework. The Social Housing Emerging Disrupters framework was set up with the sole intention of bringing modern and innovative products and services designed to defy current and outdated work practices to the attention of senior personnel in Social Housing Responsive Repairs and Maintenance. This means NHMF members would be free to use Crystal with the spade work in terms of H&S and general credentials evaluation etc already having been carried by a highly respected organisation operating within the Social Housing sector.


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