South West housing association, LiveWest, is aiming to beat the government’s target of boosting the energy efficiency of homes after partnering with the University of Exeter to launch a new environmental strategy.
The social landlord will change the way new homes are built and existing homes are maintained across the South West as the issue of sustainability in house building grows.
LiveWest partnered up with The University’s Green Consultants and their award-winning programme which is designed to provide students with the skills and experience required to work in the environmental and sustainability sector whilst improving the sustainability of an organisation.
Central to its energy efficiency drive, LiveWest is targeting that all of its existing homes reach an Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) rating of band C and above by 2028 – two years ahead of the proposed government target of 2030.
Managing over 37, 000 homes across the region LiveWest is one of the first housing associations in the country to have launched an environmental blueprint with measurable targets.
With plans to build 15,000 homes in the next 10 years across the South West, the partnership will embed LiveWest’s environmental strategy into the organisation.
Lily Boyes-Hunter, a third-year geography student at the University of Exeter, has worked with LiveWest to help the organisation communicate to colleagues and customers about becoming greener.
Lily said: “I chose to work with LiveWest due to its huge outreach and influence. As the largest housing provider in the South West it has a real opportunity to create change through their new environmental strategy.
“It was brilliant to see LiveWest’s commitment towards going green and recognising that it has an important role to play in protecting our environment.
“LiveWest are not only improving energy efficiency in its homes, but also going further to review its operations, processes and long-term plans to ensure they are sustainable and fit for the future.
“It is crucial that big housing associations, like LiveWest, have sustainability at the top of their agendas. After all housing is the perfect place to start when thinking about how we can all take responsibility for the future of the planet.”
The increased EPC rating will reduce carbon emissions and support the government’s ambition for the nation to become carbon neutral by 2050. This runs alongside LiveWest’s core ambition to provide homes, support its customers and address fuel poverty.
LiveWest has also committed to delivering its new homes to EPC band high B/low A using an enhanced fabric first approach to ensure its homes outperform current building regulations, reducing energy demand and carbon emissions.
LiveWest is also taking steps to futureproof its new homes by installing the infrastructure that can accommodate heat pumps at a later date to provide an alternative to a fossil-fuel based heating system.
The social landlord has plans to gradually move away from gas and oil heating systems to electric-based systems in order to benefit from the National Grid’s drive to become greener in how it generates electricity.
LiveWest also originally targeted a 20% reduction in paper consumption over the next 12 months and a 10% reduction of business mileage year on year for the next three years.
But with current working patterns having changed following the outbreak of Covid-19, the organisation is considering setting more challenging targets.
Melvyn Garrett, Deputy Chief Executive of LiveWest, said: “We place sustainability at the heart of our organisation and we are committed to reducing the environmental impact of our activities to create a clean and sustainable future for our customers, employees and our families.
“With local councils declaring climate emergencies across the South West and, as the largest housing provider in this region, we wanted to renew our environmental commitments in order to embed sustainability across the organisation and to assist our local authority partners to achieve the goals outlined in their Climate Action Plans.
“For us, this is about improving the energy efficiency of our homes, either through building new sustainable properties or by refurbishing existing ones.
“We have set ourselves measurable targets, increasing the energy efficiency of our homes and promoting sustainable behaviour change for both customers and colleagues which all contribute to reducing carbon emissions.
“We aim to promote sustainable solutions working with our joint venture partners to help them to meet their needs but also to contribute to creating a low-carbon economy and support thriving, vibrant communities.
“These steps demonstrate our commitment to protecting the environment for today and the future.”
Dr Helen Hicks, programme officer of Green Consultants at the University of Exeter, said: “We were delighted to work with LiveWest as community partners, improving the sustainability of their organisation, making life greener for their customers and helping our students to become exceptional professionals.
“Green Consultants offers local organisations the chance to receive free, bespoke consultancy advice from University of Exeter student Green Consultants.
“Our students are trained to review your organisation’s current sustainability practices and then implement solutions that work for you and your aims, adding real value for the community.”
Sustainable approaches run through the design of LiveWest’s offices with a purpose-built head office in Exeter connected to the local district heating network and constructed with energy efficiency in mind.
Its award-winning office in Tolvaddon, Cornwall, has an air source heat pump heating system, while all three offices, including its newly-refurbished centre in Weston-super-Mare, have charging points for electric vehicles.
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