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Social Housing Retrofits for the Future

Posted on 17 February 2022

A group fast emerging as an influential voice on sustainability in the housing sector has released an in-depth report on best practice in retrofitting social homes.

The Greener Futures Partnership (GFP), made up of some of the UK’s largest housing associations, commissioned academics from Northumbria University who specialise in how to achieve net-zero in social housing to investigate some of the best ways to successfully retrofit homes.

Social Housing Retrofits for the Future, takes an extensive look at the current state of play in energy-efficient retrofits in social housing. It highlights the challenges, which include technology, skills and policy, as well outlining best practice and the opportunities available which could lead to the most effective and efficient ways to retrofit.

The report, which is the first to be made available for all housing associations to access, is expected to be an effective reference tool for associations not yet fully decided on the best ways to approach retrofitting.

It looks at the advantages and challenges of deep versus step-by-step approaches to retrofits in social housing; assesses the main technology and equipment available in terms of fabric, renewable energy, the monitoring of energy consumption and indoor environmental quality.

It includes an in-depth section on customer engagement, which explores the most effective ways to engage customers on retrofitting, looking at co-production ownership, retrofitting liaison contacts, understanding energy consumption behaviour, through to opportunities around community building and fostering sustainable lifestyles.

The massive skills shortage that is currently limiting market growth is also covered, along with the opportunities for housing associations, through their demonstrator projects and major retrofits, to have significant influence on the upskilling and training needed to deliver high-quality, affordable housing retrofits. 

Areas such as legal issues, finance, business models and market integration are included in the report.

The main thrust of the report is on the importance of collaboration and partnerships. At the heart of innovative and successful retrofitting, it says, is a real and effective collaborative approach taken by the housing sector, as well as cross-sector collaborations.

The Greener Futures Partnership (GFP), made up of Home Group, Abri, Anchor Group, the Hyde Group and Sanctuary, was formed on the basis that collaboration would be such a key component in the delivery of their own, and government’s net-zero targets.

Mark Henderson, chief executive of Home Group, said: “With almost every passing day, the need to work together, whether with partners in our sector or outside of it, becomes ever more apparent.

“The scale of the net zero challenge is immense, but not beyond our reach. However, it is going to take a truly collaborative effort if we are to achieve our aims.

“This report by the Greener Futures Partnership will prove to be an excellent tool for the partnership itself, as well as for the many other associations faced with similar challenges.”

This is the first in a wide range of reports and analysis the GFP aims to undertake and share with the sector.