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.
The 1st of April was a small step forward for energy efficiency: tenants in private rented accommodation now have the right to request energy efficiency improvements according to the Private Rented Sector Tenants’ Energy Efficiency Improvements Provisions.
It is only a week before Londoners head to the polls to choose a successor to the incumbent Boris Johnson, stepping down from an office which enjoys considerable powers over housing, planning and energy. Each candidate has a different idea on how to resolve the shortage – but all have promised to build 200,000 homes by 2020 or 50,000 every year.
Catalyst is one of the leading housing associations in London and the South East. We are an award-winning developer and manage more than 22,000 homes for people on a range of incomes – from social, affordable and intermediate rented homes, to sheltered housing, shared ownership as well as homes for outright sale.
DECC have launched a ‘Health and Affordable Warmth Evaluation Toolkit’, developed with oversight by experts in the fields of health and evaluation from a number of organisations, including Department for Health, Public Health England and a range of front line delivery organisations.
One of the unexpected survivors of last year’s Spending Review was the Renewable Heat Incentive, which will now continue until at least 2021, albeit on a lower trajectory. Last month the Government released more detail on its plans to reform the RHI, in a bid to expand the rollout of a wider range of low-carbon technologies, and widen access to the scheme among smaller households.
All the buses come at once. Findings published by DECC following a survey of social landlords contain interesting, if not entirely unsurprising insights into their experiences as we gear up for another round of changes to RHI. The full report is here but here are some key findings:
Up to 20 per cent could be knocked off the price of ground source and air source heat pumps if they became a truly ‘mass market’, according to new research commissioned by DECC – and backed up by increased support for the technology under RHI.
The uncertainty surrounding moves to retain the exemption of energy saving products including solar from standard VAT appears to have been lifted. Following an EU ruling last year that the reduced rate of 5% is in breach of the EU VAT Directive, the Government launched a consultation in January on how it planned to amend the relevant legislation; however, there was no decision announced in the Budget 2016. Subsequently, Conservative Eurosceptics joined forces with Labour to oppose any rise. Now an amendment to the Finance Bill has been accepted which prevents any rise to VAT on insulation, solar panels, wind turbines and energy saving devices – so we can breathe a sigh of relief.
Now with FIT payments significantly reduced and proposals to remove solar thermal it could be said that we are in the worst of both worlds.