In 2009 we took our first steps into the sustainability world with RELISH™ , Residents 4 Low Impact Sustainable Homes, a project which saw us undertake various projects from retro-fitting homes through to our Relish™ Smart wire. You can read all about the project and its history here.
As the sustainability agenda has moved on and become of greater importance we now have a bold five year project to ‘Tackle climate change and reduce our carbon footprint’.
This project relates to our ambition and drive for utilising greener materials and responding positively to the climate change agenda. We know that the UK’s legally-binding climate change targets will not be met without the near-complete elimination of greenhouse gas emissions from UK buildings and the biggest problem is with homes that have already been built. Currently, 8/10 homes in the UK use gas boilers to fuel their central heating. Using renewable energy rather than fossil fuels would reduce our country’s carbon emissions significantly. This means we need to install alternative renewable heating systems in 80% of the UK’s homes. One step that has already been taken is the banning of gas installations into new homes from 2025. Exactly what is likely to replace this is not yet clear but it is likely to be a mix of various products such as solar photovoltaics (pv) panels and battery storage; air and ground source heat pumps and possibly hydrogen boilers. You can find out more from our sustainability strategy on the website.
In order to assess the current efficiency of our existing homes, we engage a company called SHIFT. SHIFT have a unique environmental scoring system which provides a standard to attain. Bronze, silver and gold standards reflect the level of environmental performance, whilst the platinum level signifies a landlord that is on a trajectory to reach sustainable environmental impacts. Attaining any SHIFT standard helps us as a landlord to demonstrate to you that we are “doing the right thing” and doing the best for colleagues and customers alike. Our 2021 assessment resulted in a Silver standard which we hope will improved to Gold in our 2022 assessment which is currently underway. Part of the assessment looks at the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of our customers’ homes. One of the government targets is for all homes to be EPC ‘C’ graded by 2030 and as close to ‘A’ graded as possible by 2050. This assessment showed that currently 74% or our homes are graded at ‘C’. However, there is a lot more work that we will need to undertake to try and get as many homes as close to carbon zero by 2050 and this will involve you in helping us achieve this as we will all need to change our behaviours as a society if this is to be achieved. We know that this will involve a lot of retro-fitting and so we have allowed an additional £60 million over the next 28 years or £2.1 million per year in our financial business plan to meet the costs of these works. This takes the total investment in existing homes to £6.3 million per year over the next 30 years. In conjunction with SHIFT we are developing over the next year an environmental scorecard that will allow us to measure progress against our objectives.
In addition, we will invest in our desire to contribute to combatting climate change by utilising new technology and sustainable materials wherever possible as part of our commitment to help reduce our carbon footprint and to make homes as energy efficient as possible.