Tackling climate change and reducing global warming is crucial for us all which is why sustainability, energy efficiency and becoming net zero are key priorities for Beyond Housing.
Let us start by explaining what we mean when using the term ‘net zero’.
Net zero is the position we will reach when the amount of greenhouse gas emissions will balance against the amount removed from the atmosphere. It is essential that we achieve this balance if we are to limit global warming to 1.5°C.
In 2019 the government legislated that the UK must achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, meaning we must end our emissions from gas, oil and coal – in other words, we need to completely ‘decarbonise’.
Look out for our next update which is all about how social housing has a part to play in creating a net zero world.
How social housing can contribute towards a net zero world
Let’s start with a statistic…
Did you know that 21% of carbon emissions in England are produced by using fossil fuels in our homes; and social housing contributes 10% of this?
Most of this comes from heating our homes, and natural gas provides 74% of heating and hot water used in buildings. Social housing providers need to look at eliminating ‘direct emissions’ (burning of fossil fuels) within their properties if we are all to contribute and achieve the 2050 target.
How will eliminating direct emissions affect you and your home?
We know how important it is that you are comfortable and warm, and that you’re able to heat your home in an affordable way. These factors will remain at the top of our agenda when we are considering how to reduce carbon emissions across all properties.
Before we begin making big carbon reducing plans, we need to understand where we are at currently by looking at our data.
Where we are now and understanding our data
The net zero agenda has been in the news a lot recently due to the COP26 event in Glasgow, but like many other businesses and organisations we’ve been planning how to become carbon-neutral for some time.
First, we need to assess the data we hold and understand the position we are in right now in terms of energy and carbon emissions.
Target 1 – Our target is to bring all our homes up to an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) Rating of Band C by 2030. Currently, 85% of our homes are at SAP Band C or above, or – around 2,200 homes.
Target 2 – The Government have set an ambitious target of reducing carbon emissions by 78% by 2035. Based on this, we aim to be ‘zero-carbon ready’ by then so we can hit the net zero goal by 2050.
What is Retrofit?
To ensure we achieve our ambitious targets, we need to prioritise decarbonising our 14,500 homes to make to reduce emissions by 100% from our existing properties.
New build properties are already more energy efficient. They’re warmer, have fewer heating requirements and the government has implemented several targets for the next 5 years to ensure new homes don’t add to the carbon emissions generated by the housing industry – and we can assure you that our Development team is already hard at work to meet them.
So, the question is, how do we get our existing homes to reach the same zero carbon standards as the new build ones? The answer is to ‘retrofit’ them.
Retrofit is about installing new systems or technologies which are designed to deliver high energy efficiency and low energy consumption. For example, fitting low energy lightbulbs, installing wall/floor insulation, or installing a ‘clean heating’ system that doesn’t rely on natural gas (such as Air Source Heat Pumps). It can also include renewable energy sources too, such as solar panels.
The Government, regulators and housing associations adopt a ‘Fabric First’ approach to retrofit, which means ensuring the energy demand for your home is as low as possible before we go ahead and install modern, state of the art ‘clean heating’.
To do this, we will first ensure your home is properly insulated, draught-proofed and energy efficient. Installing low-carbon heating systems may come later, when the technology is better and we are confident that replacing gas boilers with new ‘clean heating’ isn’t going to be too expensive to run.
Currently, 96% of our homes are heated with a gas boiler, so our priorities over the next 5 years will be to insulate homes that need it and trial new ‘clean heating’ systems – bringing the 15% below C rating, up to energy efficiency.
What does this mean for me and my home?
It’s our aim to meet the net zero challenge head on, contributing to the larger-scale effort whilst also keeping you, our customers, at the forefront of this journey.
We’ll do this by managing costs and monitoring any disruption this may temporarily cause for customers, and we’ll provide the necessary advice and guidance when we undertake any decarbonisation and retrofit work.
Earlier this year we created a ‘zero-carbon ready’ roadmap to set out what we need to achieve, this includes projects such as:
- Upskilling our surveyors to carry out retrofit assessments,
- Commencing energy efficiency programmes from March 2022 to upgrade and insulate the borderline Band C properties
- Beginning roll out of replacement of inefficient electric, solid fuel and oil heating systems over the next 5 years.
All these projects will move us toward upgrading our homes to Band C and achieving the longer-term goal of becoming net zero.
The Government have recently announced £800m in funding for the ‘Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund’, which we will be able to begin bidding for next year. We have allocated money in our budgets to get started and will maximise different funding opportunities as they arise.
This challenge is huge, but the opportunities are too; Beyond Housing has a big role to play in reducing emissions, decreasing our impact on the environment, and the positive impact that decarbonisation and retrofit can have on our customers energy consumption costs will be at the forefront of our plans.
Working together with you, our customers and other organisations is going to be key in the success of this exciting journey – so if you or anyone you know is passionate about looking after the planet, reducing your carbon footprint or simply saving money on your energy bills, please get in touch to find out more!