Jonathan our Group Sustainability and Environmental Manager, and Peter our Sustainability and Environmental Officer, update us on their work progressing our environmental and sustainability strategy.

Jonathan

In a speech back in September, the Prime Minister set out his new approach to net zero, which included changes to a number of the government's net zero policies.

In relation to housing, this involved stopping increases in energy efficiency standards for the private rented sector and pushing back phasing out the installation of fossil fuel heating in homes off the gas grid to 2035 to be in line with current dates for phasing out of gas boilers. 

Other government policies on heating and the decarbonisation of homes remain unchanged, such as planned requirements for new build homes to no longer have fossil fuel heating from 2025 and the commitment to deploy 600,000 heat pumps annually by 2028.

What does this mean for the Group?

The social housing sector has made great progress over the past couple of years in improving energy efficiency, and these announcements do not affect our own long-term goals set out in our environmental sustainability strategy - of having all properties EPC C rated or above by 2030 and reaching net zero by 2050. 

We are currently making use of wave two of the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF) to undertake retrofit projects on some of our least efficient properties, and this includes installing air source heat pumps where it is appropriate to do so and focusing on our properties which are off the gas grid initially. 

Our current work is bringing enormous benefits both for the environment and our tenants and is something we are really proud of.

This week, the government announced funding of £1.25bn to the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF), with the aim of supporting up to 140,000 social homes to be insulated or retrofitted, improving energy performance and lowering bills. Although full details of the fund have not been released, we expect this to be available from 2025 and will continue to make use of funding streams like SHDF, where they align with our environmental sustainability goals.

 

Peter

One project we are excited to progress in 2024 is one which we recently consulted with our tenants about and that we will be commencing next year in partnership with Everwarm, with co-funding from the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF).

On 16 November, we organised a tenant engagement event at the Bryce Institute in Burneside, Kendal, with representatives from the Group, Everwarm Group and West Morland and Furness Council.

Tenants were invited to come along and find out more and ask about the planned work we will be commencing next year. This is a co-funded project worth over £500k with a 50% co-funding contribution from the SHDF.

What are the planned works, how will they affect tenants, and what are the expected outcome(s)?

The project will insulate 25 properties in Burneside Cumbria with measures including external wall insulation and roof insulation along with new windows, doors, and a ventilation system to reduce the amount of energy required to heat a home and to reduce the risk of condensation, damp and mould forming in these properties.