A strategic and comprehensive retrofit scheme that will improve the energy efficiency of council homes has been proposed in York, with the aim of enhancing the quality of residents’ lives, tackling fuel poverty, and contributing to the city’s goal of achieving carbon-neutral status by 2030.
Ongoing works to install insulation and fuel-efficiency works in York’s 7,500 council homes has meant two-thirds now possess an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of C or above – recognised by the government as the minimum standard homes should aim to achieve in the future.
However, the remaining homes require more complex works due to their non-standard construction in order to bring them up to EPC C.
Retrofit improvements such as fitting internal or external insulation and ground source heat pumps will ensure the homes are warmer and more affordable to heat.
To make the improvements necessary to achieve desired energy-efficiency levels, a City of York Council report recommended that an approved budget of £1m is allocated to retrofitting the first phase of homes, with works starting in summer 2021.
The council says these works will bring around 60 poorer-performing homes up to an EPC C rating.
Alongside this initial programme of works, a longer-term approach to retrofit more homes is promised for development.
One third of all York’s carbon emissions come from domestic buildings, and to help deliver these energy saving and carbon reduction measures, the council says it will develop a strategy for upskilling local tradespeople to undertake retrofit works and meet growing demand.
Building up a supply chain of retrofit contractors, it says, would dovetail with the council’s Economic Strategy and support new jobs.
Cllr Denise Craghill, executive member for Housing and Safer Neighbourhoods, said: “This decision is about how we can best make use of the £2m of capital investment allocated to energy efficiency works in our Housing Revenue Account, in addition to our usual annual spend on major repairs and refurbishment.
“I am pleased to see officers are recommending that we use this funding as strategically as possible.
“Getting a ‘fabric first’ retrofit programme underway to bring some of our worst performing homes up to EPC C will help around 60 of our tenant households to benefit from lower energy bills and warmer, healthier, and more comfortable homes.
“It will also mean that we can develop local skills training and approaches to retrofit, providing a pipeline of work for local contractors and creating local green jobs.”
Craghill added: “It will give us a track record that will best position us to access external funding which is now starting to become available, particularly for those councils who are taking a lead.
“Keeping some further funding back at this point to use for match funding and to help us develop our strategy will also enable us to go on and improve the energy efficiency of many more council homes in the future.”
Cllr Paula Widdowson, executive member for Environment and Climate Change, said: “As a third of York’s carbon emissions are created by domestic energy consumption it is vital that we act.
“We cannot meet our carbon reduction ambition for 2030 without a programme of making lasting energy efficiency improvements to all housing in the city.
“We need to develop a delivery strategy which unlocks a financially sustainable route to investing in energy efficiency in our housing stock.
“With a fast-changing government policy position such a strategy would enable us to act swiftly to apply for grant funding opportunities when they arise.”
The council’s report is due to go to the Executive meeting on Tuesday 15 December 2020.
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