Home Features Top 30 Sustainable Housing Providers: The Results

Top 30 Sustainable Housing Providers: The Results

by HDigital_Admin


When we set out our search for the Top 30 Sustainability Housing Providers in the UK, we sought to prove that the housing sector is more than up to climate challenge. We feel we have done just that.

Entries have flown in from across the country, highlighting the wondrous breadth and scale of the sector’s drive to help the UK become a net-zero economy by 2050. All providers on this list have shown a genuine commitment to the green agenda, actively communicating with staff and residents to keep them informed and engaged every step of the way. They have gone above and beyond to improve the sustainability of their housing stock and their own organisation, whether that’s through retrofitting, using renewable sources of energy, or buiding homes to net-zero standards.

The climate crisis is real – but if this list has revealed anything, it’s that the UK housing sector will do whatever it takes to keep it in check.

All entrants and members of Housing Digital were invited to the winners’ webinar on 30 June, where we heard from each of the Top 30, a selection of the judges, and a special presentation from the first-placed provider, who shared keys insights into their success.


Chelmsford-based CHP says its aim is to transform the lives of its 25,000 customers today, without compromising its ability to transform the lives of customers in the future. The housing provider is actively making good on its ambitions through, for example, installing photovoltaic panels on some new-build homes, 25% of which will be developed using modern methods of construction; committing to green initiatives within the business, such as waste recycling and introducing electric cars; and engaging with customers to form an Environmental Champions Group. With much more planned for the years ahead, CHP customers both future and present should have nothing to worry about.

What the Judges had to say

“Great to see CHP beginning the journey towards becoming a more sustainable housing provider. They have identified the extent of the challenge and some of the issues they will need to address and the barriers to delivery.”


Hastoe Housing Association says it is continually looking to learn from the past and improve on what it can do in the future. The result of this mentality is the Hastoe New-build Standard, which encapsulates the provider’s experience and expertise, becoming the minimum standard applied to all new-build homes. To achieve its long-term ambitions, which include becoming a fully carbon-neutral organisation by 2050, Hastoe aims to collaborate more effectively with its build partners as it introduces new design guidance and is researching how to deliver the Passivhaus standard within the financial restraints of the social housing sector.

What the Judges had to say

“A clear commitment to and examples of where sustainability considerations have been incorporated into new build projects and  Passivhaus standard in particular. The virtual Hastoe Orchard is a wonderful scheme!”


Although sustainability has been part of its agenda for the last seven years, Worthing Homes says it’s only been in the last 18 months that it has fully embraced the change. The Sussex-based provider has earned a Silver SHIFT award, produced a roadmap to get all its stock to EPC C by 2050 and net-zero by 2050, and has started developing its five-year sustainability strategy. Worthing’s ultimate goal is to play its part in tackling climate change, and although it manages fewer than 4,000 properties, the organisation is doing its bit to keep the crisis at bay.

What the Judges had to say

“Good response on what sustainability means to you. Longer term renewables plan sounds sensible. Long term budgetting seems sensible too and good to see involvment in inonvation demonstrators.”


For Housing 21, a not-for-profit provider of extra care and retirement living for older people of modest means, sustainability means reducing the emissions generated within its properties. The nationwide organisation is making swift progress, with 89% of properties already marked as EPC grade C or higher and 100% set to meet the same criteria by March 2022 – eight years ahead of the government’s 2030 target. Although it’s certainly not lacking any power right now, Housing 21 says its sustainability journey will only go from strength to strength in the future.

What the Judges had to say

“Good to see EPC C by 2022, new build move from fossil fuels and CEO leading the environmental steering group. Impressive targets for the year ahead.”


For RHP Group, sustainability is not an option: it’s an essential part of the organisation’s entire strategy. It’s this uncompromising ethos that has seen the London-based provider launch its modular LaunchPod product in 2017, become early adopters of ‘green enhancing’ features such as MVHR units, and earn a ‘BREEAM excellent’ rating for its highly sustainable headquarters. More recently, RHP has published its Environmental Strategy, which sets out its plan for becoming a net-zero organisation (or close to it) within the next 10 years; and launched the Project 2030 taskforce, which has been set up to establish how the organisation can get all its homes up to an efficient EPC rating by 2030.

What the Judges had to say

“Ambitious opening statement to be net zero by 2030 is admirable. There are some good initiatives mentioned, and some good work going on to pilot innovative SMART home devices.”


For PA Housing, improving sustainability is just as important as eradicating modern slavery; facilitating equality, diversity, and inclusion; and supporting and investing in the community. Placing sustainability high up on the agenda has resulted in the provider making decarbonisation a key priority and pledging around £230m to retrofit existing stock over the course of the next 30 years. Looking to the year ahead, PA plans to conduct a formal assessment of its baseline carbon footprint and outline its retrofit investment plan – key developments that will see its commitment to sustainability bolstered even further.

What the Judges had to say

“The idea of having a framework for sustainable finance is great, and PA have committed a significant £230m amount of investment in the 30 year plan. There are some really good steps listed to take the organisation in the right direction.”


Great Places Housing Group has had a busy year, hiring a dedicated Carbon Champion within its executive team; calculating its scope-one and scope-two emissions; setting targets for decarbonisation and retrofitting poorly performing homes; ensuring all computers, laptops, and mobiles are reconditioned at the end of the life; and much, much more. It’s all part of the north-west based provider’s plan to become a net-zero organisation 2038 – 12 years earlier than the UK government’s 2050 target. So far, so great, for Great Places Housing Group.

What the Judges had to say

“Good comprehensive answers – nice to see strategic alliances, knowledge sharing, and training development.”


Rural Housing Association’s sustainability strategy over the past year has focussed on four key areas: improving the energy-efficiency of the office environment, getting the community involved in eco-related activities, using digital channels to provide information to residents on reducing energy consumption, and installing efficient heating technology on new-builds. The Northern-Ireland-based provider’s plan for the next few years is equally as focussed, involving the attainment of fundings streams to support retrofitting works, identifying new energy-efficient technologies, working in partnership with conservation experts, appointing tenants as Eco Champions, and enabling renewable-energy usage in new-builds.

What the Judges had to say

“Rural Housing has engaged in lots of proactive measures both internally and externally to decarbonise and improve the local environment. Particularly impressive was the commitment to engaging with tenants and educating them on sustainability.”


Salford-based Irwell Valley Homes has stepped up its net-zero commitment over the past 12 months. Milestones such as completing its first-ever carbon-footprint assessment, setting up an electric-car scheme for employees, and ensuring all new-builds have a minimum EPC grading of B stand testament to the provider’s sustainability push. Irwell is keen to look to the future, too, setting its sights on new technologies such as hydrogen boilers and air-source heat pumps and pledging to make all existing properties carbon neutral by 2038. All evidence that Irwell Valley Homes is putting its ‘Green, Lean, and Keen’ ethos very much to work.

What the Judges had to say

“Clear targets for a net-zero road map, established by a relatively new Environmental Committee, and some innovative approaches to embed sustainability related behaviours within colleagues, namely incorporating ‘green pledges’ into staff performance reviews. Good to see sustainability being included in the process of procuring and reviewing supply chain partners.”


Nottingham City Homes’ list of achievements over the past 12 months include securing over £12m in funding through the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund Demonstrator and the Green Homes Grant; receiving the Gold Award by the Sustainable Homes Index for Tomorrow; and continuing the rollout of EnergieSprong, a retrofit model it pioneered in the UK. Its ambitions for the future are no less grand, with plans for all homes to reach a minimum EPC grading of C by 2030 and to support Nottingham’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2028. The landlord says it has been “blazing a trail” in greener social housing over the past few years – and it shows no signs of slowing.

What the Judges had to say

“This landlord’s recent sustainability journey is commendable.”


Through launching initiatives such as Orbit Earth, an employee-led programme focussed on tackling climate change, minimising environmental harm, and improving the lives of customers; and switching energy suppliers to provide 100% renewable energy for all offices and communal spaces, Orbit says it has made a real commitment” to sustainability over the last year. The provider plans to build on this commitment by upgrading all homes to EPC C by 2030, further developing its approach to modern methods of construction, and fitting appropriate properties with EV charging points. As one of the largest housing associations in the UK, Orbit is setting an example for the rest of the sector to follow.

What the Judges had to say

“This landlord’s ESG reporting and Orbit Earth are both commendable.”


Magenta Living has had a busy few months, kicking off its first retrofit pilots, improving 81 properties to EPC grade C, forming a group of 25 climate champions, obtaining carbon literacy for both its board and executive team, and a whole lot more. It’s just as well the north-west-based landlord has been so active, as it has launched a 30-year Climate Change Strategic Framework in an effort to establish itself as sector leaders in sustainability. Magenta is well on the way to achieving its overall goal: to better the lives of customers by working with them to provide smarter, cleaner, and greener neighbourhoods.

What the Judges had to say

“Climate Change Stragic Framework with staged plan shows thought given to roadmap.”


Sustainability is core to the way Peabody operates, so much so that in the last year, the 72,000-home landlord has accelerated its journey. It has since agreed as strategy to reach net-zero as a business by 2030 and in all rented homes by 2050. The progress Peabody has made thus far speaks for itself, improving recycling rates by 26% across 12 estates, ensuring 85% of its supplies are produced using renewable energy, and reduced bills for tenants by an average of 17% by installing smart thermostats. Not bad for an organisation that was born at the height of the industrial revolution.

What the Judges had to say

“A strong approach closely linked to the Peabody philosophy, values and approach, with a clear vision and supported by dedicated team. The journey is clear with developing targets that are achievable and ambitious – good to see a corporate target set for 2030. A clear road map based on need for data gathering and modelling to build the foundations for the strategy.”


Last year, Broadacres Housing Association launched its 30-year sustainability strategy, setting out a vision for becoming a greener, more sustainable, and ultimately carbon-neutral organisation. The provider, based in Yorkshire and the Humber, is already making good progress through initiatives such as carbon literacy training for staff and rolling out energy-efficiency improvements across its offices. Its biggest investment to date has been in air-source heat pump technology, purchasing and installing 106 pumps during 2020-21, with plans to install a further 200 during this financial year. Broadacres’ mantra is ‘Think Big, Act Small, Start Now’. It’s fair to say they’re doing just that.

What the Judges had to say

“A considered, clear and long-term pathway to sustainability has been created. Coupled with carbon literacy training for all staff and Board oversight of their Sustainability Strategy, there’s little doubt that Broadacres will achieve their objectives.”


Thirteen Group has been pressing ahead with its sustainability ambitions over the past year, undertaking a holistic stock condition review involving an assessment of EPCs, air permeability, thermography, and heat demand; piloting a ‘green fleet’ for use within the business; and kicking off a decarbonisation pilot. The coming months will see the north-east-based provider continue at pace, with plans to complete a 120-home retrofit programme and take a full 30-year decarbonisation programme to the board for approval. Thirteen hopes to become a net-zero business by 2035 and bring its housing stock to net-zero by 2050.

What the Judges had to say

“Generally a good submission with a wide spectrum of ideas. Nice to see the mention of Digital Twins and remote relife monitoring which not only includes technology performance but also customer behaviour. Sharing knowledge and partnerships also give strength to implemenations in order to achieve targets and up cycling is positive.”


North Devon Homes launched its Corporate Plan earlier this year, setting out its commitment to improving its impact on the planet. The landlord aims to get all homes up to a minimum EPC grading of C by 2030, is actively researching emerging technologies such as electric vehicles and heat pumps, and is committed to improving the local environment. North Devon Homes already has some impressive achievements to its name, though, such as becoming the first provider in the UK to use Tesla Powerwall 2 batteries without solar PV and completing a two-home retrofit using the EnergieSprong approach. There will no doubt more big wins to come.

What the Judges had to say

“Although some aspects are new such as upcoming projects and the corporate plan, it is nice to see partnerships already being forged and the views to push boundaries though projects such as Boxergy.”


Believe Housing is no stranger to big dreams and even bigger wins, recently becoming the first housing association in the UK to achieve the Carbon Neutral International Standard and the first housing association to participate in the United Nations Climate Neutral Now initiative. The hard work isn’t over yet, however, as although the north-west-based provider has reached net-zero for its business activities, it now contends with the more challenging task of fully decarbonising its entire housing stock – some 18,000 properties. It’s surely just a matter of time before Believe ticks off this box, too, with its big green pen.

What the Judges had to say

“Impressive that Believe are the first housing association to achieve the Carbon Neutral International Standard and United Nations Climate Neutral now initiative. Great to see the business activities are already achieving net zero. Believe have taken the initiative to carry out ground breaking research into their customers and plan to liaise effectively throughout the process, involving ‘green champions’ as ambassadors. They clearly have committment throughout the organisation and at the very top which is fantastic to hear. Good to see ambition for deep retrofit and adoption of new technologies and looking to address the skills barriers at a local level.”


To achieve net-zero by 2050, Two Rivers Housing says it will need to achieve a “significant” carbon reduction across the entire organisation. The south-west-based provider has already made good progress, with its Gloucestershire office becoming the first in the county to receive a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating and investing £1m to launch a decarbonisation demonstrator project, which will see retrofit works on around 20 properties in the Forest of Dean. With future plans including carbon-literacy training for staff and the rollout of SMART technology across its stock, Two Rivers is well on the way to achieving its ambitions.

What the Judges had to say

“Shows a real passion for sustainability and their local environment. Good to see they have assessed their carbon impact and know where their key areas of focus are. Great they have a BREEAM excellent office of their own. Really good communication and liaison with tenants. Installing a good range of energy efficiency and low carbon measures in their stock.”


Northampton Partnership Homes’ long-term vision is to provide homes that enable people to live happy and healthy lives in enriched communities within the means of the planet. In the short-term, this has meant hiring a Sustainability Manager, a first for the organisation; setting up an environmental management system, and securing £3m in funding to support the whole-house retrofit of 150 solid-wall homes. Going forward, the landlord hopes to lead by example by managing its environmental impact, inspire residents, employees, and other stakeholder to think more sustainably, and influence local government to help shape environmental and climate policies.

What the Judges had to say

“Some really positive steps towards embedding sustainability within the company which sets a really solid foundation on which to build upon. A good range of innovative projects exploring revenues and other benefits from deployment of energy storage too.”


Together Housing Association says sustainably “must” lie at the heart of the business. So far, the north-west-based provider has ensured that is the case, with the past year seeing the board and leadership team commit to an ambitious long-term Carbon Reduction Strategy, a reduction of its carbon impact by 50%, and a continued investment into the fabric of properties. Not content to rest on its laurels, though, Together has set itself goals of achieving a minimum EPC grading of C by 2030, the same year all staff are projected to be carbon literate and for all new stock to be built to EPC A standard.

What the Judges had to say

“A strong strategic vision based around the triple bottom line that will give the approach consistency, clear decision making and analysis and provide the whole organisation with an understanding of what is being developed. This is supported by a wide ranging strategy that is one of the Groups Core strategies. They have a clear understanding of their current position, the challenges and meeting this with the setting of clear targets that focus on the biggest impacts. The objective split in to two main areas keeps it focused and will make sense in operational terms, as well for targets and reporting. Great to see the testing of new investment models that is needed in the sector and supported by the realistic understanding of the challenges of the agenda and long term nature of the strategy.”


For Connect Housing, being sustainable isn’t about business: it’s about doing the right thing. It’s an ethos that has seen the Leeds-based housing association become sustainability leaders in the region through hiring its first sustainability professional, aligning itself to the UN’s sustainable development goals, engaging with colleagues to create and imbed a series of sustainable values within the organisation, and more. The provider has big plans for the future, too, as it aims to challenge and influence climate policy in the region by working with Leeds County Council. It’s this inclusive approach to sustainability that has ensured Connect earns a place on this list.

What the Judges had to say

“Focus on just transition is great, and a really broad view of sustainability. Clear and fresh drive, and supporting other organisations in the region. Some very clear goals which are ahead of requirements such as phasing out gas boilers earlier, and EPC C sooner than 2030. Clear plan over the next three years, and a big focus on driving policy.”


The past year has seen Optivo has work with residents to create its 2021-25 Sustainability Strategy and chief executive Paul Hackett sign up the organisation to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Not only that, the nationwide provider has achieved SHIFT Gold for the second year running and has played a key role in working with the G15 to develop a policy roadmap for the UK housing sector to reach net zero by 2050. Through all this and more, Optivo is delivering on its commitment to nurture and restore the environment so its communities can lead “happy, healthy, and fulfilled lives”.

What the Judges had to say

“Many positive actions in place and use of innovation illustrated. Also good to see longer term plans and acknowledgement of current issues. Congratulations on SHIFT which demonstrates commitment, understanding and ability.”


LiveWest has developed three core foundations that shape its overall strategy: Sustainable Homes, Shaping Futures, and Working Smarter. Over the past year, these foundations have translated into starting the construction of 385 homes with ground-source heat pumps, becoming an early adopter of the Sustainability Reporting Standard, launching the ‘Creating Greener Futures Together’ service for customers, and establishing Environmental Champions across the organisation. Going forward, the south-west-based provider aims to reach a minimum EPC grading of C in all its properties and further build on its ethos of sustainable working.

What the Judges had to say

“LiveWest have a good strategy, showing a broad understanding of sustainability and the link to sustainable communities, jobs and wider priorities. Their commitments are ahead of government targets for existing homes. Recognition that homes are the biggest impact shows that the work has been done to think about the real areas of improvement required. A very solid entry. Love the idea of having a renewable technologies team to support customers with understanding low carbon technology within their homes. Great ideas around reducing transport requirements through innovative remote assistance approaches and also commitment shown through training up in house engineers for all green technology.”


Stockport Homes Group has set itself a lofty goal of becoming an entirely carbon-neutral organisation by 2038. It aims to achieve this by reducing carbon emissions by a total of 40% by 2025, increasing customer awareness of environmental issues, and contributing to local green space and biodiversity. Although the landlord has set itself a big task, recent progress – including the installation of at least one form of renewable technology in around 40% of properties and the introduction a small fleet of electric vehicles for employee use – shows it is more than up to the task.

What the Judges had to say

“Very ambitious targets – including carbon neutral by 2038. Great progress on implementing low carbon measures via the ‘Homes as Energy Systems’ project this year. Taken on staff to provide free energy advice for customers. Good accredited training provision for staff. Great progress on the implementation of renewables – almost 40% of their stock and good plans for use of further innovation in this area.”


Raven Housing Trust has looked closely at how it could transform its stock, becoming the first housing association in the UK to publicly announce the estimated cost of retrofitting works. Not only that, the south-east-based provider currently touts an average SAP rating higher than the social housing sector average and has pledged for all new-builds to be constructed to net-zero standards. The near future will see Raven break ground on two new net-zero developments, as well as delve deeper into its retrofit programme by bidding for funding from the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, which it hopes will enable improvements on a further 150 homes.

What the Judges had to say

“Very clear ideas which are supported by analysis. Understanding of where the biggest carbon impact is, which is useful in prioritising action. Raven have clearly been leading the way and helping to share learning with other landlords. Pledges were made early to make new build homes net zero, and they have a really good handle on their current position as well as costed plans to improve. Clear understanding of the challenges and actions in place to mitigate these.”


For Livv Housing Group, sustainability represents an opportunity to not only tackle the climate crisis but also improve the lives of its customers. The Merseyside-based provider has ambitious targets, pledging to move all homes to a minimum EPC grading of C by 2025 and to start its net-zero retrofit programme in the same year. Internally, the group has also made improvements, setting up an Environmental Sustainability Group dedicated to finding and implementing green initiatives within the business itself and reducing its carbon footprint across the board. By merging its commitment to tackling both fuel poverty and climate change, Livv’s sustainability drive is moving ahead with strength and conviction.

What the Judges had to say

“An exceptional, well reasoned and comprehensive approach that has a strong vision and ‘voice’ for the Livv approach to the agenda. It has a clear focus on some key issues such as the opportunities the agenda brings, fuel poverty and adding value. They demonstrate an openness and willingness to learn from others in the sector. They have already made excellent progress and set key targets, with both Board and staff engagement plus the intelligent trialling in one of the key challenge areas – heating – as well as the testing of new products. Good to see the publication of SECR and the setting of corporate targets for offices and transport.”


Abri places sustainability right at the heart of its operations, going so far as to enshrine ‘Tackling climate change’ as one of its seven strategic priorities. The organisation, based in the south west of England, has bolstered its commitment by hiring a dedicated executive director of Assets and Sustainability, which Abri says will help ensure it completely decarbonises by 2050. Other highlights include becoming an early adopter of ESG reporting and implementing energy-efficiency upgrades within Abri offices. The road to 2050 is a long one, but Abri is well on the way.

What the Judges had to say

“Abri have adopted sustainability across the organisation and it appears to be a central and strategic prority, which has been adopted as part of the culture. They are clearly thinking about how to hit the standards required, and thinking innovatively about delivering value by combining with other landlords to procure at scale. They have high ambition, but at the moment appear to be at the start of the journey with some of their decarbonisation plans. They are running some good initiatives for colleagues such as carbon literacy training adn apps, and they have wider commitments around zero emissions vehicles and MMC which shows a comprehensive consideration of the sustainability issues. Really liked the focus on gardning wildlife and biodiversity with residents, and the initiative of giving coffee cups and water bottles to colleagues.”


Stonewater operates firmly under the belief that the housing sector can lead the decarbonisation agenda in the UK – and it sees itself as among those driving the charge. Like many on this list, the 33,000-home provider plans to get all properties up to EPC C by 2030; however, Stonewater intends to go one step further, pledging to upgrade all homes to EPC B by 2040. Other highlights include earning a Silver SHIFT rating, planting around 12,000 trees (with around 20,000 more projected by March 2025), and embarking on a first-ever Passivhaus scheme. Where Stonewater leads, others will surely follow.

What the Judges had to say

“Clear understanding of the biggest challenges facing social housing (decarbonisation of heat) and clearly Stonewater have been doing works over the last 12 months to help the sector’s thinking in this space. They understand the impact of the 2050 requirements, and are looking beyond the minimum EPC C by 2030 target. They have also already started piloting retrofit projects, private wire, removing gas boilers from their spec 4 years earlier than required, and working on Passivhaus and MMC schemes, whereas some others are at the start of this journey. They also have initiatives around tree planting, and recognise the challenges faced by the sector, and are using their position as a thought leader to drive forward the knowledge of others.”


One of Wales’ largest registered providers, Tai Tarian has set itself the big task of becoming carbon neutral by 2030. It’s wasting no time in getting there, either, joining newly formed consortium Carbon Literacy – Cartrefi Cymru, establishing a subsidiary dedicated to building MMC homes, bringing in electric charging points and cars, and completing a series of new-build developments, all to EPC A standard. Tai Tarian operates under the motto ‘Start Small, Think Big, Learn Fast, and Scale Fast’. It may have started small, but its commitment to sustainability is quickly becoming one of the biggest in the UK.

What the Judges had to say

“There’s so much here to commend, from committing to building all new homes to EPC A standard, to pledging to become carbon neutral by 2030. A really impressive push for sustainability, and a housing association that Wales and the UK should be proud of.”


GreenSquareAccord doesn’t concern itself with small ambitions. Some achievements over the past year include meeting its 16-year goal of reducing carbon emissions from properties by over 25%, 12 months ahead of schedule; breaking ground on the first-ever European development of virtually plastic-free homes; and saving more than 300 tonnes of C02 through using renewable energy. Not only that, the nationwide provider builds 200 carbon-neutral homes using renewably sourced wood and is seeking to address fuel poverty by replacing old, inefficient heating systems with, new, energy-efficient upgrades.

Engagement with tenants forms another big part of GreenSquareAccord’s operation, having set up resident panels and groups that provide insight and direction as to how it can better deliver sustainable, affordable housing. Its plastic-free homes project, which was born out of dicussion with residents, serves as a prime example of how GreenSquareAccord listens to tenants and acts on what they say.

GreenSquareAccord’s long-term ambition is to become the greenest housing provider in the UK, and by our measure, it has rightfully claimed that title.

What the Judges had to say

“An impressive, ambitious and confident approach with a clear vision and well developed road map that has the potential to be sector leading. They are leading the way in undertaking the much needed Research and Development. The in depth and comprehensive approach is supported by the achievement of ISO14001 and the need for external reporting and accreditation that few in the sector have achieved.”

TOP 30 WEBINAR - 10am-12pm WED 30 JUNE

All entrants and members of Housing Digital are invited to the winners’ webinar on 30 June, where we will hear from each of the Top 30, a selection of the judges, and a special presentation from the first-placed provider, who will be sharing key insights into their success.


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