In April, Which? magazine splashed with a report that many people who drive a new car may have long suspected – the mpg given in the handbook does not quite fit with the number of times they were having to fill up. And three weeks ago the Volkswagen Group dropped its bombshell – test results for levels of dangerous nitrous oxides cars emitted by its vehicles had, in effect, been fabricated.
This is a key time for the social housing sector. Shaped with the regulatory uncertainty and recent budget and funding cuts, the highest priority for the sector is to ensure it is prepared for the future.
There is increasing attention being paid to design versus as-built energy use. Some homes that were built to higher standards were tested and found not to be delivering the energy performance that had been specified – sometimes significantly underperforming. Understanding the reasons behind this ‘performance gap’ is vital to ensuring that new build homes are warmer, more comfortable to live in and cheaper to run.
The proverbial man from mars would not have to look far for evidence that humans are taking seriously the threat to their planet of climate change. No annual report, CSR statement or ad campaign is nowadays complete without an environmental statement of intent. But he may be puzzled to read this proliferation of earnest literature in conjunction with dire warnings about the consequences of a global temperature rise of 4 degrees C. Which should he believe?
SHIFT is the sustainability standard for the housing sector. It measures the sustainability and work being undertaken to reduce fuel poverty. Over 2.4 million people are housed by organisations involved. After years and years of running the scheme we wanted to know, does accreditation have impact? Do our clients find it useful?
On Wednesday, THE REVIEW: UK social landlords – environmental performance 2014/15, was launched at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in Westminster. The report summarises the key findings from the last round of assessments that accredited landlords have undergone and the progress they have made on various environmental performance measures, from the energy efficiency of homes through to flood and overheating risks and resident engagement.
After over a year of disruption since government announced “winding down” of the Code for Sustainable Homes, a new home building standard has finally been announced. It is called the Home Quality Mark (HQM) and is being developed by BRE.
Leading regeneration specialist Keepmoat has announced it is the first to sign up to the new SHIFT for Contractors benchmark. The newly extended standard will make it easier for housing providers to evaluate the environmental performance of contractors and the supply chain, facilitating cooperation and collaboration between housing associations and contractors.
Sustainable Homes currently manages the Sustainable Homes Index For Tomorrow (SHIFT), the national environmental performance benchmarking group for social landlords. Recently, we have been approached by a number of contractors and local authority DLOs to develop a measurement tool that’s consistent with this SHIFT index. The move to develop such a tool has so far been welcomed by both housing providers and contractors, who see this as a way to make it easier for landlords to check the environmental credentials of suppliers.
Hexagon Housing Association receiving theirGold SHIFT award.
2014 was quite a year for the Sustainable Homes Index For Tomorrow (SHIFT). When it started in 2008, with support from the HCA, GLA, UK-GBC and WWF-UK, the membership group had just sixteen initial members. Now over 75 organisations are involved.
One of the largest housing associations in the UK has bolstered its commitment to sustainability by joining SHIFT – the leading benchmarking initiative to measure, monitor and improve environmental performance. The association, which has 120,000 homes across the north-east, becomes part of a network of organisations managing in excess of 1.3 million homes around the country.