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A fair, just and sustainable transition to net zero

Ahead of COP26, SFHA strategic partner Warmworks wrote an article for our special climate change edition of Housing Scotland magazine reflecting on SFHA's recent Energy Conference and discussing how it can help social landlords to support their tenants on the transition to net zero.

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By Simon Kemp, Business Development Manager at Warmworks

Warmworks was delighted to attend SFHA’s recent Energy Conference and offer our insight on how Scotland can transition to a net zero nation in a fair, just, and sustainable way. It was great to see such a wide range of speakers come together, and, from hearing about the many challenges and opportunities ahead of us, it is clear that a collaborative approach is needed for Scotland to achieve its aims – one that brings together the Scottish Government and the public, private and third sectors to work alongside, and in step with, Scotland’s local communities.

Discussion on the day covered a broad range of issues facing the sector, from choosing the right technologies when selecting in-home interventions, to funding energy efficiency measures in a way that is appropriate and scalable. The risk of rising energy bills for those switching from gas to an electrified form of heating remains an area for discussion, and clear consensus shows that reducing carbon emissions generated by domestic heating will be significant in Scotland’s journey to net zero. However, it is critical that tenants and the community do not bear a disproportionate cost of this transition through increased energy bills. Through our plenary presentation on how we can support individuals and communities as part of a just transition, we discussed our recent experience in installing battery storage technology across Dumfries and Galloway. We saw several benefits for the tenants that were involved in this project. These included significant energy bill savings, greater thermal comfort, and improved health outcomes. A number of tenants with in-home medical equipment derived an immediate benefit from the battery’s ability to deliver continuous supply during a local power outage – pointing towards the potential for battery storage to act as a technology that delivers resilience as well as energy bill savings. You can read more about the findings of this project by downloading the report.

We were also pleased to hear from Amy Tickell from the Scottish Government’s Energy and Climate Change Directorate, giving SFHA members key detail on the latest round of the Social Housing Net Zero Heat Fund. With a committed duration of five years, the fund will play a pivotal 
role in enabling social landlords to invest in low-carbon heating, with 50% grant investment available for projects that meet the fund’s key objectives. As part of an application for heat pumps, social landlords can also bid for funding for multi-measure programmes involving the installation of solar panels and battery storage. Within the context of switching fuel types, we believe this 
is a hugely important element of the fund as it will provide social landlords with the financial support needed to invest in more ambitious programmes that will reduce energy bills for tenants. 

It is these types of innovative measure packages that will support Scotland’s journey towards a just transition – not just offsetting potential energy bill rises but delivering transformative bill savings for tenants in, or at risk of, fuel poverty. In the delivery of these measures, we know that it is vitally important that tenants are provided with comprehensive support and reassurance is provided at every step of the customer journey – from initial engagement through to aftercare support, with advice on the most suitable energy tariffs built into the handover process. In Warmworks’ role as managing agent, this wraparound support is central to our delivery model, ensuring tenants can maximise the comfort, environmental and financial benefits of the measures installed.

As schemes like this become more embedded in the coming years, we look forward to playing a central role in supporting both social landlords and tenants in the specification and delivery of innovative projects. By delivering first-in-class customer care and the highest quality standards, we can provide tenants with the support and confidence they need to make the most of their new technologies and, in the process, reassure our communities that Scotland’s transition to net zero will be a just one for all of us.

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