Housing provider sees success in green investment push

Stonewater welcomes the government’s plans for a green industrial revolution, which builds on the significant campaigning by the housing association to secure long-term Government support.

Nicholas Harris

Earlier this year, the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) published a report ‘Housing for the future’ funded by Stonewater calling for the Government to take greater action in decarbonising the UK’s housing.

The report’s research found that investment in improving the energy use of homes is pivotal in helping the UK to not only tackle the climate emergency and achieve the country’s Net Zero targets by 2050, but also lift thousands of households out of fuel poverty and create thousands of jobs.

Today’s announcement (18 November) featured a £1bn spending commitment from the Government, with the aim of installing 600,000 heat pumps annually by 2028 and create 50,000 green jobs by 2030.

The housing association believes the installation of heat pumps will be an important element but also welcomed the increased investment in hydrogen heating which potentially offers a viable alternative to gas central heating for many of its affordable homes across the UK.

Nicholas Harris, Chief Executive at Stonewater, said: “Stonewater has engaged with the government, industry and parliament on this key issue throughout the year and are pleased to see that some of the recommendations of the report by IPPR have been listened to.

“A combination of technologies and approaches are needed to decarbonise our homes that ensure that our customers can be warm and comfortable but aren’t faced with increased costs to heat their homes. So, I’m pleased to see the 10-point plan cover investment for a wide range of solutions and that the target for no gas in new homes has been brought forward to 2023. This is particularly important as it will help focus the minds of all developers, so our Section 106 properties will also have low carbon heating even sooner than initially planned.”

The 10-point plan has been a long time coming and Stonewater is further along than some housing associations in working towards a greener and more sustainable future for its homes and customers.

“In Oxford, 60 of our affordable homes at Blackbird Leys are currently being retrofitted with Kensa Shoebox ground source heat pumps with Switchee heating controls as part of the Energy Superhub Oxford (ESO) pilot project. A world-first project showcasing an integrated approach to decarbonising power, heat and transport across Oxford.

“The smart heating system is expected to save our customers 3,520 tonnes of CO2 over their lifetime and cut their current night storage heating bills to levels lower than that of mains gas, all without adding strain to the UK’s electricity grid; a triple-challenge the renewables industry must overcome to ensure low carbon ground source heat pump technology is more widely adopted.”

Luke Murphy, Associate Director for Energy, Climate, Housing and Infrastructure, said: "The government's ambition to install 600,000 heat pumps a year is very welcome, as is the proposed additional investment.

"What is needed now is an overall strategy and a plan to deliver on this ambition. As IPPR, set out in its report earlier this year, we need to provide local authorities, housing associations, and private landlords with the tools, regulatory framework and incentives needed to deliver.”

Housing for the future: Zero carbon homes and the UK’s retrofit challenge

Our report with @IPPR is now available to download. Outlining the technological innovations that would enable the UK to effectively retrofit its existing stock.