Can the ground-breaking Paris Climate Change Agreement make a difference and what are its implications for social landlords? Every country in the world signed up to the seemingly impossible commitment to keeping temperature rises to below 2 degrees Celsius, in an urgent response to accelerating climate change caused by burning fossil fuels.
The Housing Plus Academy at Trafford Hall, near Chester, is holding an Energy Plus Think Tank on the 13th and 14th September, bringing together experts in the field to address the opportunities and challenges for social landlords of retrofitting their housing stock and building new homes to the highest energy standards.
Nicholas Doyle of Adecoe, housing and energy specialist says;
Energy represents one of the greatest challenges but also one of the greatest opportunities in social housing – the sector is in a unique position to capitalise on the radical changes that are now happening in the energy supply market in the UK. The Energy Plus Think Tank provides the opportunity for housing providers to work out exactly what this means for them and how they can realise benefits for their organisations and customers.
Housing professionals are unsure what to do or how to do it. The Think tank provides the opportunity for the sector to hear from leading thinkers in the field, to find out what others in the sector are doing and to take back control of the energy saving agenda to make it work for them.
The built environment accounts for 50% of overall CO2 emissions, housing is over half of this total. Upgrading the existing housing stock and building more energy efficient buildings is key to meeting the emissions reduction target. Arup Engineers have produced an ambitious, cleverly thought out, widely supported plan for retrofitting all our homes over 25 years. For new-build, building regulations have been amended to raise standards of energy efficiency. The rationale for Arup’s plan is strongly endorsed by the Governments Climate Change Committee.
Chris Jofeh, Building Retrofit Leader at Arup says;
Arup proposes a series of steps that will enable the UK to halve its residential energy consumption. The steps create the building blocks needed for a national residential energy efficiency programme: create and maintain demand at scale, learn and disseminate the lessons from research and experience and finally create the right governance framework. These building blocks must be underpinned by cross-party support for an integrated and enduring policy approach across the built environment.
By saving at least 50% of the energy we currently use in our buildings we can avoid escalating future costs through the harsh impact of climate change. We have already seen the cost of flooding as a direct result of how and where we build – a major factor in climate change. We know that many tenants struggle to pay energy bills and juggle rent, heating, lighting, food. We know the serious health consequences of fuel poverty for low income households. We know that most future energy supplies must come from renewable sources but this can only work if energy demand is halved. So social landlords have many reasons for investing in planned maintenance, and we know that there are affordable and practical ways of doing it.
The Housing Plus Energy Think Tank will bring together leading experts to debate these crucial ideas, present the most inspiring examples of what can be done, and help us think through what we can do to ‘keep the home fires burning and the lights on’. The event will be highly participative with sustainability and energy-saving specialists, suppliers of energy saving equipment, builders, housing advice organisations, local authorities, housing associations, cooperatives, architects and other professionals involved in the energy saving field.
Anne Power of LSE suggests;
As owners of over 4 million homes, social landlords can play a leading role in developing retrofitting and energy plans. Two key motives can drive this: one to help tenants pay their rent, heating and lighting bills; and secondly to upgrade and modernise their property to the most energy efficient standards, to improve their asset value and reduce running costs. Housing associations and local authorities that pioneer this work are breaking new ground, contributing to one of the most critical agendas for our future and winning widespread support by doing so.
The Housing Plus Academy organises Think Tanks, Roundtables and Policy Briefings on the big challenges facing housing associations, local authorities and community based organisations in the current climate of austerity, public spending cuts and welfare reform. We know that energy-saving, cutting fuel bills and reducing costs are key issues for social landlords.
The Housing Plus Academy was launched on November 9th 2015 with the overarching aim of helping social landlords remain viable social businesses whilst supporting the communities where they work, particularly helping their front line staff and tenants to respond to welfare reform, financial pressures, energy costs, community and social needs. Around 300 social housing staff and tenants have come to think tanks since the launch.
So far, fifteen leading social housing providers have agreed to become partners and sponsors of the Housing Plus Academy, alongside the National Housing Federation, the Chartered Institute of Housing, and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which also supports the work to include small, community based organisations and vulnerable minorities. LSE’s involvement is particularly helpful as this opens the door to research information and evidence and also offers a national and international reach, by linking practice with policy.
David Orr, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation says;
Trafford Hall and LSE have a national reputation that spans many years and today housing is more challenging than ever. It will be initiatives like the Housing Plus Academy that will help the sector to rise to those challenges and prosper in the future helping all of us to do more and better, and often with fewer resources.
Terrie Alafat, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing adds;
In a tough environment, the Housing Plus Academy can help housing professionals and organisations maintain their support for residents and communities.