David Kemp, sustainability manager at Procure Plus, discusses how retrofit schemes can be delivered effectively and how upskilling housing employees is vital to improving energy efficiency in the sector.
Arguably, social housing providers have the greatest part to play in tackling the energy efficiency of their stock, by addressing the lack of knowledge of both the benefits and problems which can arise when carrying out energy efficiency focused works.
One key problem is a lack of shared understanding in a project team. For example, there may be an asset manager controlling the funding, but a sustainability manager who is separately charged with planning the retrofit projects. This can cause inconsistent approaches when creating a long term asset management plan. In order to make a retrofit scheme successful, it’s vital that everyone understands the long term benefits that can be derived.
Similarly, both tenant and responsive repair managers may face issues if they lack the understanding needed to explain how residents can use the retrofitted energy efficiency measures to their best effect.
To begin to solve these issues, Procure Plus is working with the Centre of Refurbishment Excellence (CoRE) – a national non-profit agency which delivers best practice models for cost effective, efficient refurbishment projects.
Working with industry leaders, CoRE has developed the Diploma in Retrofit Asset Management to address the lack of knowledge and training in the sector, ensuring retrofit becomes a real consideration in long-term asset management plans. Procure Plus will be supporting the delivery of the course for the first time in the North West this year.
Many housing providers currently refurbish properties in single projects, eg, replacing a bathroom or adapting the plumbing. While carrying out projects in this manner isn’t an obstacle in delivering effective retrofit, it may result in later attempts to address the problem becoming prohibitively expensive if an organisation overlooks the energy efficiency issues in the first instance.
While individuals are able to take the full Diploma themselves, the qualification has been developed with the understanding that the responsibility for an entire retrofit project rarely sits with one team member. For that reason, organisations involved with retrofit schemes, such as Local Authorities and Registered Providers, are encouraged to send members of their project teams to attend the modules most applicable for them. In doing so, a shared understanding can be fostered, while minimising the impact of attending the course on a day-to-day basis.
The CoRE retrofit asset management qualification will upskill candidates to ensure everyone involved is on the same page, while promoting the benefits of retrofitting a property, both in incremental stages or as a whole.
Registered Providers must commit to educating their teams with courses such as the CoRE Diploma, if they want to support those involved in delivering holistic asset management plans.
Retrofitting the UK’s housing stock to improve energy efficiency is imperative to achieving fuel poverty reduction. Therefore, gaining the knowledge and skills to deliver projects will be of huge importance not only to improving the UK’s social housing stock, but also to meeting our 2020 energy efficiency targets.
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