Ambitious carbon-neutral social homes strategy set out by Lib Dem-controlled council

A strategy to ensure almost 5,000 social rent homes are made carbon neutral by 2030 has been produced by Lib Dem-controlled St Albans City and District Council.

The council is committed to tackling the climate emergency by cutting emissions across its area to net zero by that date, and as part of this effort is looking to make dramatic improvements to the energy efficiency of its 4,952 social housing properties.

Gas heating will no longer be installed in any of the council's new developments, and alternative options, such as air source heat pumps, will be installed instead along with other sustainability features including solar panels and electric vehicle charging points.

The Council has already embarked on two pilot schemes including a £750,000 initiative to retrofit 50 properties with cavity and loft insulation, solar panels, low energy lighting and other features.

This project, partly funded by a £250,000 Green Homes grant from Government, is due for completion at the end of March.

A bid for £1.5m from another Government fund has been made to fund similar work at a further 143 properties.

The strategy document says for the Council housing stock to be carbon neutral by 2030, an average of 619 properties a year will need to be retro-fitted. It is estimated that the total cost will be £198m, but a decrease in prices due to technological advances is expected to reduce that figure.

Councillor Jacqui Taylor, the Committee’s Chair, said after the meeting that approved the strategy: “Our ambition is to make our social housing carbon neutral in the years ahead.

“Tackling the climate emergency is this Council’s number one priority and this detailed strategy is another illustration of our determination to take effective actions.

“We have already installed air source heat pumps, instead of gas boilers, at two new council homes and our policy is to continue this work at all future developments.

“Our main challenge is to retrofit our existing 5,000 properties with energy efficient features, whilst at the same time trying to reduce the fuel poverty that many of our residents face. This means firstly prioritising insulation to reduce the amount of energy needed to keep a home warm.

“This will be an expensive task and we will be proactive in seeking as much Government funding as we can to achieve this. We have already gained a £250,000 grant and applied for a further £1.5 million but will need much more financial support to deliver a greener District for our tenants and residents.”

The Committee also agreed that a long-term contractor for the retrofit work could be sought.


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