Social housing can take the lead on path to net zero

“Business as usual” in social housing will not be enough to achieve net zero carbon by 2050, the Sustainable Energy Association (SEA) has warned.

In its report, Social Housing Leading the Way to Net Zero, published on 26 September, the SEA noted that while the residential sector currently accounts for 22% of UK emissions, social housing makes up just 10% of this figure – despite making up 17% of all homes – leading it ideally placed to lead the way forwards.

While this demonstrates that “good foundations that have been laid in mitigating carbon emissions in the sector,” the report said a combination of deep retrofit of existing social housing, along with greater standards in new builds and rapid market growth of low-carbon heating systems, was required to reach net zero. The SEA made a series of recommendations, including that the government legislate its target of raising all homes to Energy Performance Certificate Band C by 2035 – beginning with social housing in 2020.

It also called for increased government funding for energy efficiency measures and incentivising landlords to improve efficiency through “warm rent” tenancy agreements. Other recommendations included the delivery of a new Decent Homes Standard that reflects the net zero target and that the Future Homes Standard is implemented as soon as possible.

Lord Best, President of the SEA, stated: “Both in building new homes and in retro-fitting existing properties, this sector has led the way. Now is the time for housing associations and Councils to go further in adopting the techniques and technologies that will make a real difference. Social housing can raise the bar and set the standards for all housing provision.”