Who is driving change in housing?

October 28, 2016

The SHIFT Awards this year promise to be an exciting event. We are celebrating the fantastic achievements of the housing sector in improving environmental performance, helping residents and strengthening organisations through sustainability.

Leadership is a driving force for change and thus a key pillar in sustainability. We strongly believe that it is important to recognise those individuals with an outstanding commitment to sustainability and an ongoing drive to encourage greater sustainable change in their organisations and in the sector. These are the housing sector’s sustainability champions.

The SHIFT Awards judging panel selected four individuals whose strategic direction and impact have set their organisation apart. The final decision, however, will be left to the 220+ attendees at the SHIFT Awards, who will vote live and pick their sustainability champion.

Meet 2016’s sustainability champions and get acquainted with their achievements:

Brody Isaac | Sustainability Manager | Viridian Housing

Vision for sustainable community

  • Healthy, environmentally conscious, with cheap to run homes
  • Promotes biodiversity and a low carbon economy, reduces fuel poverty

Changes they have driven

  • Home improvements and customer education
  • Responsible for Energy Advice Service, aimed at reducing fuel poverty, has helped 213 residents to date
  • Put in place contract reducing leaks and drafts for over 100 residents/year
  • Eliminating Viridian’s F&G rated properties by 2018 through EWI, cavity wall and loft insulation

How has this been implemented

  • Created Environment Strategy Team, bringing together heads from across the business
  • Implemented sustainability across company, e.g. Electric vehicles implementation
  • Eliminated F&G properties without external funding

Key learning points

  • Links between health and sustainability need to be made stronger
  • Business case needs to be made stronger
  • Using company’s communication team to promote sustainability helps promote agenda
  • If you don’t ask you don’t get…keep pushing

Emma Dewey | Sustainability Manager | Mulalley

Vision for sustainable community

  • Everyone lives in a comfortable home and is educated and works in well-performing buildings, to ensure comfort, health and future prospects.
  • opportunities for safe outdoor recreation, community communication and activities, including growing food
  • The environment is treated with respect in all its aspects, and resources are used sensibly in production and use

Changes they have driven

  • Ensure all new build certified under C4SH and BREEAM for refurbishment, and are designed holistically beyond standard practice
  • Appoint ecologists and Energy and Biodiversity Champions at sites
  • Ensure all construction materials are A/A+ rated, preferable with high levels of recycled material
  • Monitor energy use of sites, encourage minimisation of this
  • Encourage use of transport alternatives to cars

How has this been implemented

  • Present workshops and provide training to staff
  • Founder member of in-house energy Performance Review Panel, working at all levels within company
  • Founded London BREEAM Group to network and share knowledge

Key learning points

  • Listen, Observe, Communicate

George Phillips | Energy Initiatives Officer | Colchester Borough Homes

Vision for sustainable community

  • where the home, its technologies and its residents all live and work in harmony
  • all homes thermally sound, have super-efficient heating systems suited to needs of the building and the resident, are lit in innovative and intelligent ways, produce the energy requirements of the home while storing all excess energy produced

Changes they have driven

  • Upgrading CBH’s 6000 homes via low carbon, super-efficient and fuel poverty cutting way while maximising scarce resources
  • Refocused organisation, getting teams to work in complimentary way
  • Target key properties in holistic manner, by increasing efficiency and installing new measures (eg PV, air source heat pumps)

How has this been implemented

  • Successfully gained grant funding for projects such as sheltered housing low carbon retrofit project and gas absorption heat pump
  • Speak at conferences and events, and make new partnerships

Key learning points

  • Partnerships are your most valuable tool
  • A home’s energy technologies’ must be installed and used in an order that works in conjunction with and in a complimentary manner to one another.
  • The next new technology is out there its up to us to find it.

Steff Wright | CEO | Gusto Homes

Vision for sustainable community:

  • Housing that is sustainable and commercially successful
  • Homes that appeal to environmentally aware customers and those who had not previously considered that aspect

Changes they have driven:

  • Successfully deliverd “Millenium Green” project and fully met commercial objectives. All homes equate to C4SH Level-4
  • Successfully delivered “Woodlands Edge” project (shortlisted for New Build category) with propertied costing £1/day average in lighting, heating and hot water
  • Built Rainwater harvesting manufacturing business (Freerain) and founder member of UK Rainwater Harvesting Management Association

How has this been implemented?

  • building sustainable new homes now part of the Gusto DNA; it is what all stakeholders in the company identify with, and are expert and experienced at delivering
  • disseminates experience and works with academia, government and developers
  • invests substantial time and resources to practical pursuit of his vision

Key learning points:

  • square the performance vs profits circle by achieving both sustainability and commercial goals
  • this can be achieved wholly without subsidy, all his projects have been undertaken on a wholly commercial basis but delivered performance above regulations.
  • the importance of motivation and vision in the new homes sector, confirmation that performance need not be at the expense of commercial success, and recognition that the drive for more sustainable homes comes best from within the industry.


We are looking forward to welcoming these remarkable individuals on the 24th November.

Did you know the SHIFT Awards will have two Dragons’ Den categories which will also be voted live at the event?

Read more about the entrants to the Dragon’s Den Policy Proposal here and the Dragon’s Den Sustainability Project Proposal here

Emma Jones

Emma Jones