The future of sustainable housing – Homes 2017 summary
Through expertly delivered seminars and engaging conversations with housing seniority, our staff at Monarch Partnership gained a wealth of invaluable insights at last month’s Homes 2017 event in London Olympia. The event was a revealing peek into the direction of the housing industry. Innovative schemes poured from councils, housing associations, and other kindred organisations concerning the bringing of sustainable housing into the future. The main focus leaned towards a greener, smarter, more digital, and more cost-effective destination. In our second retrospective look at the event, we wish to share with you some of the main talking points regarding sustainable housing, backed up by a handpicked selection of relevant news features.
The tagline for the Monarch-sponsored Local Authority Lounge at Homes 2017 was ‘Futureproof Your Council’. This is a term we developed to incorporate all aspects of protecting mainly local authorities, but also housing associations and the like from issues they will face in the future. With more urgency towards sustainable housing to protect the environment and save costs, pressure to comply with ever-evolving legislation, a pressing need to save money on utilities to drive down overheads and enable a larger profit, and the need to delegate responsibilities to experts, our aim is to guide councils and organisations towards a smoother, more profitable future.
Interlinked with sustainable housing, at the event we found ourselves in discussions on smart homes, where a plethora of systems within homes is digitalised. This includes an app for boilers and radiators which are linked up to a GPS, which notifies and turns on the heating when the occupants are a certain distance from home. Compare this with the classic timer system and you’ll realise that it saves energy during occasions when occupants are late home or change plans. And this Is just the start of the smart home. There are security devices that link to your phone, or a doorbell you can answer from anywhere via your phone, tablet or PC. The list goes on.
Whilst researching ideas to futureproof councils and businesses, we came across a host of articles that display innovative schemes such as this plastic bottle deposit return scheme, which could save councils millions on landfill charges, and recycling bins, and protect the environment in the process.
We also found this Nesta feature on how the digitalisation of councils could help them connect better with citizens in the future. Nesta is an innovation foundation and charity that grow new ideas and invent systems that they hope will one day change the world. Let’s get futureproofing those councils and help them provide sustainable housing.
Affordable warmth and fuel poverty – how could sustainable housing help?
Houses of lower income are struggling to provide themselves with affordable warmth as winter creeps in. At Homes 2017 we discussed different solutions to this issue, such as the use of CHP stations (Combined Heat and Power) which utilise the heat by-product of the electricity generation process. This is from the supplier’s point of view, but for low-income tenants, the struggle to achieve the government health guidance recommended indoor temperature of 18°C, they can only work with what they’ve got. For this reason, there are steps that one can take to maximise energy efficiency in the home.
As part of our campaign to highlight the good work being done by councils up and down the country, we have been choosing a ‘Council of the Week’ every Monday, in order to spread great ideas and encourage innovation. One such example is Stoke-on-Trent and their geothermal heat project, where a 700-metre network of pipes are to be laid underground, eventually they will be connected to a geothermal plant by 2019. It is said that the project could reduce the city’s carbon footprint by 12,500 tonnes a year, providing communities with affordable warmth in the process.
Another scheme for tackling fuel poverty is Derby Council’s Ram Energy, which intends to offer cheaper tariffs to households, particularly those that don’t switch regularly.
Sustainability, ethical procurement and social value
Then unsurprisingly there was that old favourite, sustainability. This article from The Guardian takes us through some of the long-term benefits of going green, and how acting now is a wise investment, using examples of some of the greenest councils.
The later part of 2017 has been a very exciting time for us in terms of sustainability. Since hiring a Sustainability Manager in 2017 we have launched our SDMP (Sustainable Development Management Plan), and we are in talks regarding an exciting new service which will be unveiled early next year. So it was great to hear so many views on the subject at Homes 2017.
One term that came up in conversations at the Homes 2017 was Ethical Procurement. This is a form of procurement that takes into consideration a network of other factors in the supply chain, such as environmental, economic and social factors, fraud, corruption, slavery, and below-par working conditions. Such consideration displays professionalism, responsibility and integrity within an organisation’s approach. As housing pushes forward, this is something that we may hear a lot more of, and could well be reflected in future legislation.
Another hot topic at the moment seems to be the measuring of social value. Many companies are pursuing tools that analyse relevant data, such as staff cycling to work rather than driving, recording charity work, and recycling habits. Here at Monarch we have been attending workshops and looking into such tools that measure social value in order to keep up with environmental and social demands.
Find more info on our sustainability services
Or take a look at what we can do for the housing sector
Read our other Homes 2017 features: