Making up only 2% of the UK’s heating demand, district and communal heating has the potential for great expansion, bringing with it a whole host of benefits. The government is promoting its expansion and development, and social landlords are in a key position to help with this growth.
Perhaps one of the most important environmental impacts at the moment is that of carbon emissions. Would it be a good idea to be able to quantify how many people are affected per tonne of carbon emitted? Yes it would, because this can then be used in wellbeing accounting and then managed accordingly.
The Welsh Wellbeing for Future Generation Act received royal assent in April 2015. The Act is an innovative piece of legislation that has the potential to lead the country, and the world, towards a sustainable future. The Act responds to issues of climate change, poverty, health, inequality and jobs and growth. It legislates on working differently and working together.
Sustainable Homes carries out research into the areas that are of most value to the housing sector. Over the last few years, we have looked into the impact of feedback on residents’ energy use, the performance gap in existing homes and new builds, and the link between rent arrears and improved energy efficiency. We received great feedback and gained involvement from government, landlords and the supply chain. Now is your chance to provide input on our next research proposals and submit your own idea for Sustainable Homes to take forward.
When any organisation, including a landlord, is able to use its assets more efficiently this can make their business plans stronger and more resilient. Sustainable Homes wanted to explore the impacts that, unbeknownst to landlords, higher quality, and energy efficient properties might have on bottom lines. Anecdotal evidence suggested there may be a link. Analysis by Hastoe Group, for example, revealed that properties retrofitted to a high energy efficiency standard had, on average, half the rent arrears of others.
We’re told that when a bricklayer first walks onto a building site, the first thing he or she does is not lay any bricks. They spend quite a bit of time working out exactly where the windows should be. This is because they want to position them exactly such that there is a neat half brick / whole brick pattern around the window frame. A very neat aim, but surely this is all on the architect’s drawing. Well, apparently not. Not, that is, unless the drawing is created under a Building Information Modelling (BIM) regime. A BIM drawing would show bricklayers exactly where the windows should be to create the desired, neat effect. This can save nearly a day of bricklayers’ time on site and serves as just one example of how BIM can cut costs on site.
The weather is getting warmer, but that doesn’t mean we’re all switching our heating off just yet. The inevitable heating debates continue. Nearly half of couples argue over whether or not to touch the thermostat, according to a survey commissioned by heating and air conditioning specialist Andrews Sykes.
A recent report commissioned by the housing charity Shelter encourages the release of green belt land to respond to the housing crisis in London, concluding that redundant brownfield sites cannot possibly deliver the expansion targets that the mayoral candidates have promised to deliver. The population in the capital is expected to grow by nearly half a million in the next decade and the mayor’s own assessment suggests that 50,000 homes per year will have to be built to meet the need, more than double the recent build rates. We support steps to up the build rate to this level as Sadiq Khan promised.
SunConcept, the leading installer and maintainer of solar PV, has joined the SHIFT, the national benchmarking group. Recent changes to the Feed in Tariff have presented a challenge to the industry as well as social landlords, SunConcept use the latest CAD and solar modelling software to ensure energy generation and income are maximised and the numbers stack up – as well as providing free electricity for residents and cutting emissions.
Encouraging people to lead a noble life was one of the driving forces behind the work of social housing pioneer Octavia Hill. Reflections on her ambition and the extent to which we have achieved it (or not!) are relayed in a recent book by Octavia Housing Association. I would urge everyone to get it.