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Social mobility for energy efficiency

We know from experience that social landlords across the UK are doing their bit to get involved in making strides towards more comfortable, cheaper to run and lower-carbon homes for their residents. Obviously it has to be right for the people living in the homes that work needs doing on, and as pertinently as ever, it has to make economic sense.

But it’s pleasing to see that examples of really good work are getting the publicity they deserve. Sinclair Meadows in South Shields was in the news last week – a development with some great low-carbon features. Solar PV, a recycled wood-burning boiler system, toilets flushed by rainwater and intelligent heating and cooling make this a Code for Sustainable Homes Level 6 development. Impressive stuff indeed, and the results seen on homes’ energy monitors are heading in the right direction, too, with average costs cut by three quarters.

The scheme is also a learning opportunity. While we recently looked at a ‘keeping up with the Greens’ theory of how to get people making more sustainable actions at home, Sinclair Meadows seems to offer hope for more of a ‘getting along with the Greens’ approach.

All the residents are chipping in with relevant skills to maintain their new green community. Results are being viewed with great interest by academics at Northumbria University – who are monitoring developments to see if this chipping-in approach leads to a sustainable up-skilling of everyone over time.

When there’s a lot of doom around in the mainstream media, good news can still work, it seems. And there’s been more good news for social landlords in the form of a £3million injection of Government support to extend the RHPP social landlords competition that we run for those looking to get into renewable heating options for their housing stock.

The scheme now has two distinct arms: a “fast track” scheme for those with ideas that ready to be implemented right now, and just need the funding support to get going; and a “reach out” competition to get those social landlords who had their doubts, needed more time, or need to get more support.

There’s been some key changes to the scheme on top of those ones, with the aim of extending the reach of RHPP and getting more community engagement: DECC are hosting regional events for those landlords who are interested but not sure if they’re ready to take the plunge, and we’re now welcoming applications from groups of landlords who feel ‘clubbing together’ would put them in an altogether better bidding position.

Gary Hartley is Energy Saving Trust's expert blogger. He has extensive experience researching and writing on a number of topics, with particular expertise in sustainable energy, policy, literature and sport. As well as providing regular blog content, Gary has also been published in numerous magazines and journals.

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