SOCIAL housing can lead the way towards a net zero carbon future, according to a new report from the Sustainable Energy Association (SEA).
The ambitious target to cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050 requires substantial commitment and government action, but the steps currently being taken are not enough, the organisation says.
Furthermore, transitions are required across all sectors as soon as possible to pursue this target and the scale of the challenge should not be underestimated.
The SEA report and analysis within argues that in the residential sector, which currently accounts for 22% of UK emissions, a ‘business as usual’ approach will not go far enough to meet net-zero.
“For residential buildings, the social housing providers are doing better than the private landlords or the home ownership sector, accounting for 17% of homes but only 10% of carbon emissions,” said said Lord Richard Best, president of the SEA. “Both in building new homes and in retro-fitting existing properties, this sector has led the way.
“Now is the time for housing associations and councils to go further in adopting the techniques and technologies that will make a real difference. Social housing can raise the bar and set the standards for all housing provision.”
The analysis within the report reveals that whilst social housing emissions will continue to fall modestly up to 2050, this will not be enough to reach net-zero.
A combination of deep retrofit of existing social housing, far greater standards in new-builds and rapid market growth of low carbon heating systems is required. Regulations and standards also need to be adequate. It must also be ensured that funding is accessible as well as available and that homes are built and perform as designed
The SEA is calling on the Government to:
- Legislate its Energy Performance Band C target to raise all homes to EPC Band C by 2035, starting with social housing by 2030
- Deliver a new and improved Decent Homes Standard that better reflects the new climate target
- Implement the Future Homes Standard as soon as possible so that new homes are future proofed with low carbon heating and world-leading levels of energy efficiency
What’s more, the SEA is calling for increased Government funding for energy efficiency measures, specifically in social housing and incentivising landlords to improve efficiency through ‘warm rent’ tenancy agreements.
“Social housing providers care about the quality of the properties they build and rent and have a long-term interest in the communities in which they are based,” said Lesley Rudd, the SEA’s chief executive. “At the SEA’s roundtable held in the House of Lords, housing providers expressed their concern about climate change and demonstrated a willingness to take on the challenge, however, they also highlighted the significant obstacles they face, particularly with funding.
“There is a real opportunity for the social housing sector to lead the way in reaching net-zero, but to take advantage of that opportunity, stable and consistent policy together with funding support is required.”