Agenda item

Managing Housing Stock and Climate Change


The Compliance and Projects Manager gave a demonstration of Portfolio to Members which is a web based assessment tool to help design, cost and implement strategic carbon reduction programmes for our housing stock. It identifies energy efficiency measures and costs to improve SAP ratings, achieve fuel savings and reduce CO2 emissions. It can produce reports on existing SAP ratings and the potential SAP ratings after the improvements. The results are based on property age and type; wall, roof and glazing type; insulation (cavity, loft and external wall); heating type and fuel used.


We already know that from 2025 all properties in the private rental sector are required to have a minimum EPC rating of C or above in order to be rented out.  Although this does not apply to social housing, as a landlord, Gravesham wants to lead by example and therefore will look to mirror these requirements, where possible, within its own stock. Currently, Gravesham has 58 properties rated E or below and some extensive improvements will be required to meet these standards. There are exemptions in place to continue to let properties if landlords have done everything possible but the property still doesn’t meet an EPC rating of C or above.


Currently 42% of GBC’s housing stock (2,384 homes) are rated below C. £3.7m is required to upgrade these homes to a minimum C rating averaging £1,538 per property.


£90.7m is required to lower carbon emissions of our housing stock to the minimum possible with the energy efficiency improvements currently available. This would reduce emissions from 13,772 to 3,560 tonnes – a 75% reduction and we would need to offset our carbon emissions to compensate for the remaining 25%.


Current projects include:


·         Local Authority Delivery Phase 2 (LAD2). The council has been awarded up to £297,000 under the Government scheme. To be eligible to receive the funding we would need to contribute 33% of the total project costs. We are currently working with our colleagues in Finance to identify savings within our existing budget to meet our contribution commitment.


We are currently carrying out feasibility studies to best use the funding which has a project completion date of March 2022. One such project is to install Gas Source Heat Pumps at one of our sheltered schemes which is not connected to the gas grid. The 16 homes will see an improvement in the current “D” and “E” EPC ratings, reduce energy costs to the resident and lower carbon emissions.


·         Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund – WAVE 1 (SHDF). We have applied for and been allocated technical assistance for bid development for the SHDF. If successful with the bid we will be targeting properties with a lower than “D” EPC rated homes with a view to improve the fabric of the building first i.e. cavity wall, external wall and loft insulation improvements. The successful bidders will be informed in January 2022 with projects to be completed by the end of the same year. Depending on the size of our funding allocation we will be liaising with colleagues in Finance to discuss our budget commitment towards energy efficiency improvements for 2022/23.


·         Lawrence Drive, Cobham. One of the few properties remaining with a solid-fuel boiler within our housing stock and in an area with no gas infrastructure. The only realistic alternative in the past has been to install electric storage heating which has made a negative impact on the property’s SAP score and increase fuel bills to the resident. Therefore by using Portfolio we have identified specific energy improvements such as cavity and loft insulation and we will be trialling our first installation of an Air Source Heat Pump in our housing stock.


Next steps include:


·         To set a baseline of SAP ratings and carbon emissions of our housing stock and measure improvements in the future

·         Create a priority list of works focusing on those that will yield the biggest impact and align with EPC rating C by 2025

·         Bid for government funding to enable retrofitting of insulation and new heating types

·         Consider measuring the impact of on-going programmes to ensure all planned and major works have a positive impact on carbon emissions

·         Consider recommendations from the system when properties become void or require major works

·         Work with finance to ensure budgets are set to enable carbon reduction works

·         Lobby government to make more funding available to LA’s to improve and decarbonise aging housing stock

·         Create a longer term Asset Strategy


In response to Member questions, the Compliance and Projects Manager and Director (Housing) explained that:


·         We generate in the region of £28m a year through rental income and operate a balanced budget. The money made available recently through government grants is a drop in the ocean to what we need to get our housing stock to net zero. We have an ageing stock so we will never get it all to be carbon neutral and only a small amount of our stock will be

·         The Team are looking at all of our improvement works and planned maintenance work to see what will have the biggest impact. Working with colleagues in Finance we will continue to maintain a balanced budget but put pressure on government to make some sensible decisions around decarbonising social housing


The Committee noted the report on Managing Housing Stock and Climate Change.