To answer any questions received from members of the public of which notice has been given under Council Procedure Rule 13
The following question had been submitted by John Milner (Extinction Rebellion Gravesham) and a response was given by Cllr John Burden, Leader of the Council:
In the Council’s Climate Change report dated December 2020 under areas of focus for 2021 (p.11 onwards) – key deliverables in 2021 and specifically in relation to bullet point 13 “Progress activity to improve the energy efficiency of council owned homes” – so could the Council please tell us:
What action has been taken to improve the efficiency of homes other than fitting more efficient fossil fuel gas boilers?
How many and what percentage of council homes this has benefitted?
Extinction Rebellion Gravesham
(Residents of Gravesham)
Cllr John Burden, Leader of the Council, highlighted the following points in his response:-
Gravesham has 5,700 units in its Council Housing stock and a budget of £90million would be required to bring these homes up to full compliance of carbon neutrality and these costs would currently have to be met by the tenants. The Council is doing its best to meet the target of 2025 but financial assistance is needed in this area.
Despite a lack of Government direction and commitment to help fund climate change in residential buildings, the Council has progressed action within its housing stock to reduce carbon emissions. The Council has completed or is scheduled to complete the following actions to improve the energy efficiency of its housing stock in 2021/22.
· The replacement of inefficient double glazing with ‘A’ rated double glazing to 160 homes.
· The installation of flue gas heat recovery systems (FGHR) to 95 homes with ‘A’ rated gas boilers.
· Installing adequate loft insulation to 99 homes
· Installing cavity wall insulation to 22 homes
· Installing renewable heating, ground and air source heat pumps (GSHP & ASHP) to 17 homes.
Without accounting for the reduction in carbon emissions that the installation of 265 ‘A’ rated gas boilers achieve, the above measures will reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 1,814,704kg CO2 and these improvements benefit 393 homes, which is 7% of our housing stock for 2021/22.
It is really challenging to have a significant impact on carbon emissions within existing residential buildings but despite this, the Council continues to do all it can to ensure that emissions within our existing stock reduce and that we achieve the net-zero carbon targets set by Government.
One such target is to ensure that all newly rented private sector properties meet an EPC rating of C by 2025 with a further target being set for existing private sector tenancies by 2028. In addition to this, they have also set a target for social rented properties to meet EPC C standards by 2030. At Gravesham, and as a Landlord, we want to lead by example and therefore, we are currently finalising plans and budgets to meet the requirement set for the private sector within our social housing stock to meet EPC C standards by 2025.
As a Council we have recognised that whilst there are some significant challenges in decarbonising our existing housing stock, there are also opportunities to go above and beyond what is expected when developing new council homes.
Since 2019, we have built 49 new homes, with a further 84 currently on-site which have been designed to meet an EPC rating of B to ensure thermal comfort for our tenants, whilst also helping to reduce fuel bills and carbon emissions. In addition to this, a further 50 homes are currently being designed to PassivHaus standards, which again, is another example of this Council going above and beyond to deliver, and realise its climate change commitments.