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Bioregional awarded grant to lead social housing retrofit study

Sustainability charity Bioregional has been awarded a grant by the Energy Redress fund to develop a model for social landlords to install low-carbon, deep retrofitting measures in hard-to-treat homes at scale, simply and affordably. 

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Roll-out of the model will result in lower bills and better-quality housing for tenants, cutting the environmental impact of poor energy-performing social housing and providing a sustainable income stream for landlords in return for their investment - a triple-win for all.

Sue Riddlestone, Bioregional CEO said,

“We know that for Registered Social Landlords the requirement to meet net zero carbon for their stock is a headache, with a set of linked challenges. How to pay for it? What technical approaches to take? How to upskill the workforce and engage with residents? That’s why we are delighted that the Energy Redress fund is supporting us to problem-solve through all this, and make that information available to all Registered Social Landlords.”

The toolkit developed will be available to all Registered Social Landlords and aims to provide a powerful incentive for mass whole-home retrofitting across the UK.

Project sponsor Places for People, with 48,000 social rented homes across England and Wales, is eager to implement mass whole-house retrofitting on its stock, to reduce the environmental impact of energy use and provide high quality, affordable, and healthy homes for its tenants. But the cost of doing so is prohibitive.

An estimated 96,000 people in its hard-to-treat properties, 50% of its total stock, stand to benefit.

The project is already underway with 94 social rented units of 1 and 2-bed flats all owned by Places for People in a 1970s build in Milton Keynes. The project team led by Bioregional is surveying the condition of the property, establishing a baseline on ventilation and heating among others, and collating tenant perspectives, risks and costs.

In the UK, homes make up 25% of total energy use and 15% of greenhouse gas emissions. A sixth of these homes - 17% - are owned by social landlords.

But the return on investment required to decarbonise homes and reduce tenant’s bills is often too low to be viable, and small-scale innovation projects fail to factor in the roll-out of improvement measures at scale.

This hands-on study by Bioregional will address these issues, from looking at technical solutions to the financial, regulatory, and operational barriers of improving social-housing stock.

In a step change from current retrofitting studies, Bioregional will also look at the social impacts of the project by engaging with tenants and incorporating their views and feedback into the decision-making process when identifying technologies and solutions.

Sue Riddlestone said,

“Making the case for investment is always hard, but this user-centric study will be of mutual benefit to all involved, not least unleashing a green social-housing revolution across the UK, making homes greener, warmer and more energy efficient and affordable, while providing a stable and secure return on investment for social landlords with a sizeable deep retrofit bill.”

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