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Towards Net Zero: Preparing for our journey



Disclaimer- This is the independent Spotlight view. It does not necessarily represent the views of Origin management

Hi again from Origin Housing’s Spotlight Panel. We are residents from Origin properties in various parts of London and Hertfordshire. And we work to find improvements and solutions that will strengthen Origin Housing’s culture, values and performance in working with residents.

No doubt the term ‘net zero’ is a familiar phrase to at least some readers of today’s blog. It refers to the amount of carbon that we’re adding to our environment as a result of all our activities (heating, cooking, driving, ordering stuff for delivery etc. etc). And the ‘net’ means that some of our activities actually remove carbon from our environment (growing trees and other plants, brewing beer, absorbing carbon from the air etc.). It is the amount of carbon in our environment that affects the amount of climate change we are all experiencing.

You may have heard already that something like 16% of all the carbon that people in the UK add to our environment comes from our housing. And the UK has legislated to become Net Zero by 2050. So Origin Housing, along with every other social housing landlord, is now in the foothills in preparing for our contributions to net zero. A big part of our contributions will involve changes to the buildings many of us live in, and to the ways we live our lives.

Can Origin residents just ignore what will be going on around them? Some probably can, because their homes are already well-constructed and well-equipped. But we’re fortunate that some social housing residents in other parts of the country, who aren’t so fortunate, have already started to look at this question.
For example, here are just some of the conclusions from last year’s Northern Housing Consortium’s “Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury Report” https://www.northern-consortium.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Tenants-Climate-Jury-Report.pdf
On Communication, Costs and Managing Disruptions to Tenants:
“The potential for disruption is huge . . .Housing Associations need to work with tenants to decide what is timely and appropriate information, and offer information in a range of ways, and in a way that is understandable by all . . .
“Housing associations and tenants must work together in all aspects of retrofitting; tenants should be told what plans there are and be reassured their interests are taken into account. Full disclosure, from both sides, on all matters will help efficiency, lessen delays and be most cost-effective.
“If you don’t communicate then no one will know what’s going on and will lose trust. Ensuring tenants are fully informed of work to be carried out beforehand and a good level of aftercare support and training provided for a period of time when completed (is also essential).
“Housing associations need to work with contractors to ensure work is completed to the highest standard. An independent person or body to be appointed as a point of contact for tenants, to provide oversight to work, to hold parties to account & mediate any issues.
“People need to be given options to get away from the mess and noise of the work being carried out on their homes . . .in all likelihood there will be very few people who will be really affected by refit work, so temporary rehousing, getaway space shouldn’t be too big a problem for the housing association.
“The best quality of technology should be used. There should be monitors to see that it is working to the highest standard and efficiency.
“It’s important that if tenants get the retrofit done that they don’t suffer for trying to save the planet by having to pay more on their bills.”
Is This a Call for Partnership?
At first glance, these conclusions from the “Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury” may look only like expectations from residents for their housing association.
But in fact they also contain many expectations for their fellow residents:

  • To pay attention to communications from their housing association
  • To say what information and communications they want and need
  • To share with their housing association their wants and needs when it comes to retrofitting
  • To communicate with official quality monitors about concerns and experience, and listen to their responses
  • To be prepared for temporary moves, as part of retrofitting projects
  • To expect lower energy bills and a healthier environment after retrofitting work is completed
  • To participate in training to make best use of new technologies, and afterwards to put their learning into practice
  • To be active participants in reducing their carbon footprints.

The word ‘partnership’ comes to mind when residents’ expectations of their housing association and of their neighbours are brought together. The word ‘partnership’ implies a working together of equals. Words like “collaboration” and “engagement” also come to mind.
Perhaps it’s now time to take our next steps on the road to Net Zero?
Nickie F.