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Innovative partnership working: looking back on 2023 and to the future to meet net zero

Catherine Palmer, Net Zero Development Lead at Changeworks, reflects on the past year.


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In 2023, within the context of an accelerating climate emergency, new net zero targets on the horizon and a changing policy background, the drive to deliver on energy efficiency remains a challenge the social housing sector.

The ongoing energy and cost of living crises continues to impact on households across Scotland with a stark increase of people now living in fuel poverty, not least social tenants. Invaluable energy advice and support has been delivered to social housing tenants through partnerships such as Changeworks with SFHA and Warmworks, but more needs to be done to end fuel poverty.

At Changeworks, we believe the route to meet net zero in a just and fair transition is through decarbonising homes through improving their energy efficiency. Over the past year, we are proud to have worked with SFHA members as well as partners and organisations on a range of projects, pilots and service delivery that have made a real difference.

Housing Association Energy Support Service pilot

Following a successful 6-month pilot to support housing association tenants with energy advice, in 2024 we will be extending a one-stop energy support service to SFHA members on a subscription basis. The service, aimed at housing association tenants, provides a range of tailored support and resources to help them be affordably warm in their home. The service includes improving energy efficiency, resolving energy issues and achieving financial gain. More news to follow in 2024.

Social Housing Net Zero Heat Fund

Changeworks is working in partnership with our social housing partners to develop eligible projects for the Social Housing Net Zero Heat Fund. The fund underwent a refresh in September 2023, and we look forward to progressing work in the new year working alongside government and the sector to support the delivery of decarbonisation projects in Scotland.

BE-ST Fest:

This year, we announced a strategic partnership with Built Environment – Smarter Transformation (BE-ST) with the aim of accelerating and improving retrofit in Scotland. In October, as part of the BE-ST festival, Changeworks with the SFHA held a webinar on Net Zero Pathways exploring strategic retrofit planning for the decarbonisation of social housing stock.

Energy and Net Zero Conference

In November Changeworks with Warmworks sponsored the annual Energy and Net Zero Conference in Glasgow. This was a well-received event made ever more relevant with Scottish Government’s release of the SHNZS consultation on the same day. It was great to see and speak to many familiar and new faces on the day.

Looking ahead

Changeworks, alongside the SFHA, has welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement of the new Social Housing Net Zero Standard and Heat in Buildings Bill consultations. 2024 will begin to bring clarity around new social housing standards and the support available to help social landlords meet net zero.

This is a critical time for the sector. We are currently working with Warmworks and SFHA on a new programme of content of webinars and the Energy and Net Zero Forums, and will be ensuring our support reflects the ongoing decarbonisation challenge as well as addressing new opportunities and services to support SFHA members.

We look forward to continuing to build our partnership with the SFHA and Warmworks and supporting social housing landlords across Scotland on their decarbonisation journey.

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