The Most Efficient Route To Zero Carbon Social Housing

Achieving zero carbon will be one of the biggest challenges facing social landlords in the coming decades. If the sector achieves the ambition of net zero emissions, it will go a long way to ensuring that the UK meets climate change commitments. Just as important, it will help to protect many thousands of families from fuel poverty and improve their health and wellbeing.

The most efficient and effective approaches to eliminating carbon emissions from social housing will emerge from innovative thinking around technologies, materials and methods. New builds will increasingly be off-grid while much existing stock will need insulation upgrades and non-fossil fuel heating systems to be installed.

Zero Carbon and Procurement

The increased prominence of sustainability in social housing repair and maintenance will inevitably affect procurement. There are many persuasive reasons why the best long-term value will be achieved through an integrated Total Asset Management approach that needs to be implemented through longer-term partnerships.

The replacement of fossil fuel heating systems alone will be a significant task that needs precise management and quality assurance. With around five million homes needing energy efficiency and low carbon upgrades there are opportunities to save significant sums through better coordination with existing work programmes.

The Integrated Approach

Energy efficiency upgrades shouldn’t be viewed in isolation. With careful planning it is possible to incorporate some of the improvements into other work streams including repairs, upgrades and voids. From the residents’ perspective this will be less disruptive and demonstrate that the service is well managed and cost-efficient. The challenge for procurement is to create a contracting structure that supports maximum flexibility and partnership working.

The Sustainable Energy Association has pointed out the important role that social housing will play in the nation’s drive to create a net zero economy by 2050. The association also emphasises that business as usual will not get us to the goal. At this critical time it’s essential that procurement teams seek repair and maintenance partners with a proven commitment to using sustainable methods and materials alongside the capability to plan integrated and efficient work streams based on comprehensive asset management data.