Procure Plus explains how it is using its unique position in the social housing sector to lead the way to a net-zero future by sharing knowledge between landlords and trialling cutting-edge green technologies
With the UK aiming to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and Greater Manchester aiming to do the same by 2038, the housing sector is set for a near-total transformation over the next decade.
Heating homes is responsible for around a fifth of UK emissions, and reaching net-zero will require retrofitting millions of homes across the country with energy efficient building fabric and green technologies like heat pumps and solar photovoltaics.
Around one in six homes in the UK are managed by social landlords, so the social housing sector has a pivotal role to play.
As a leading procurement framework provider for social landlords, Procure Plus uses its in-house sustainability expertise to help social landlords navigate the challenges and opportunities ahead.
David Kemp, Sustainability and Growth at Procure Plus, explains: “The low-and zero-carbon agenda has been a core focus of Procure Plus for nearly a decade.
“With the right investment in energy-efficient retrofit and low-carbon technology, landlords can not only achieve their environmental obligations but also tackle fuel poverty, demonstrate social value, improve the lives of their tenants, and even open up new revenue streams.
“We have become an essential source of impartial advice for the social housing sector, not just in the north-west but beyond.
“Unlike other framework providers, we also go one step further by delivering ground-breaking energy innovation projects and working in partnership with local authorities, academia, and industry to drive the transition to a greener economy.”
Driving uptake of low-carbon technologies
Whether it is reducing energy demand with insulation, producing and storing electricity with solar and battery storage, or generating low carbon heat with heat pumps, Procure Plus prides itself on exploring how low-carbon technologies can add value to every project.
In 2016, we created and delivered the UK’s first dedicated social housing framework for ground source heat pumps, which was responsible for 10% of all UK ground source heat pump installations last year.
“With the right investment in energy-efficient retrofit and low-carbon technology, landlords can tackle fuel poverty, demonstrate social value, improve the lives of tenants, and open up new revenue streams”
With our support, Together Housing is delivering the largest heat pump installation programme in the UK. Over 800 properties in Lancashire and Yorkshire are being fitted with ground source heat pumps in the first phase of its multi-regional heat pump programme, mostly replacing inefficient and costly electric storage heaters.
The individual heat pumps are connected via an innovative ‘shared loop’ and use flexible smart controls to maximise energy savings and comfort for tenants. The project, which recently won the European Heat Pump City of Year award for 2020, will save 66,000 tonnes of CO2 over the next 20 years.
The market for low- and zero-carbon solutions is complex, fast-changing, and often difficult to navigate. In our role as a trusted advisor and critical friend, Procure Plus helps landlords capitalise on the opportunities and mitigate the risks posed by new technologies and changes to policy, legislation, and funding.
We also host the Greater Manchester Low Carbon Asset Managers Group (LCAM), which brings together senior strategic and operational asset managers from landlord organisations to promote and share best practice.
In 2020, the LCAM produced the Greater Manchester Landlords’ Climate Change Strategy, which charts the measures landlords could and should be taking on their journey to net-zero.
Procure Plus plays a leading role in testing and trialling cutting-edge green technologies and retrofit models in the social housing sector. Our ground-breaking flagship innovation project, Homes as Energy Systems (HAES), is installing heat pumps, solar PV, and other energy efficient technologies in over 1,000 homes across Greater Manchester to explore how they can be aggregated together into a ‘virtual power plant’.
The virtual power plant will allow landlords to shift demand away from the grid or export excess power at peak times, generating new revenue streams in addition to reducing carbon emissions, lowering energy bills, and increasing comfort for tenants.
The £10.4m project is supported by the European Regional Development Fund.
Working in partnership
Procure Plus works with a wide range of stakeholders to support the wider transition to a greener economy.
David Kemp adds: “Net-zero cannot be achieved in isolation, which is why we work closely with a range of partners and proactively feed into policy development at the local, regional and national level.
“Here in Greater Manchester, we are a key stakeholder of the Combined Authority’s Green City Region Partnership, which oversees the delivery of the city region’s plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2038.
“Over 60,000 homes will need to be retrofitted with energy-efficient technology every year to hit that target, so we are directly contributing to plans within the city region to make that a reality.”
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