Agenda item

Decarbonisation of Residential Properties

This item is held jointly between the Communities Scrutiny Commission and the Growth and Regeneration Scrutiny Commission. The Growth and Regeneration Scrutiny Commission is invited to attend for this item.


The Executive Director for Growth and Regeneration, and the Sustainable City and Climate Change Service Manager introduced the Decarbonisation of Residential Properties item. The published paper outlined the programme to decarbonise homes to achieve the city goals of carbon neutrality. The paper also highlighted cross cutting opportunities, such as the City Leap Energy Partnership, and the differing workstreams within Social Housing and Private Housing.

The Service Manager for Planned Programmes outlined the work undertaken within the Social Housing stock. Bristol compared well with other Local Authorities, with 70% of the housing stock listed as EPC rating A-C, however existing programmes were not forecast to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, and this had prompted consideration of a number of different initiatives. Pilots for 2021 were planned with learning to be shared across teams and the region. A tenant advisory service was also created to support tenants in increasing efficiency and lowering costs.

The Programme Manager for Energy Service outlined the delivery work undertaken in Private Housing. Bristol was in a relatively good position, having reduced carbon emissions across the city by 23%, which was above the national average. Some supply chain problems were encountered with the Green Homes Grant voucher scheme, and WECA had commissioned a research piece to help stimulate this. A local bid had been submitted to The Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery Scheme (LADS) for retrofitting across the city. A support service for fuel poverty was also commissioned, and a Fuel Poverty action plan was developed to sit alongside the decarbonisation strategy.

Members were invited to ask questions.

Members asked about the relationship between tenants and leaseholders, and what measures would be needed to retrofit in those situations. Officers stated that tenants would be consulted on the recharge for any work undertaken; recharges would depend on the terms of leases. It would become more difficult in areas with adjoining owner occupiers where it would be necessary to work with contractors to see if this could be offered to the owner occupiers.

Members welcomed the evaluation of heat pumps. Officers noted that improvements made by heat pumps were variable dependant on the type of property, ie. they were not suitable replacements for gas on their own, but could be appropriate combined with other measures such as insulation. The strategy noted that addressing fuel poverty and reducing tenant’s bills was also a key driver, not just improving carbon efficiency.

Members expressed enthusiasm for the initiative with Energy Sprong, and asked for further details in how pilot properties would be selected. This would initially be in pairs of properties, potentially in larger clusters. The approach would be to develop the supply chain; while the pilots would be more expensive and would require support from grants, the long term intention was for a cost neutral scheme through mass production.

A typo was noted in paragraph 4.2.3. In the sentence ‘for low income buildings with a combined income of £30k pa’ this should read ‘below £30k pa’.

The report noted that some tenants had reported issues with heat pumps. Reported issues were around the timing and use of the system, and perception of cost. A study was conducted in response to complaints which led to adjustment and servicing of the pumps. Members welcomed the approach to complaints raised.

A Member invited the team to consider visiting properties in Stockwood.

Members noted that the decarbonisation programme required an initial capital outlay followed by longer term funding, and asked what the long term picture of this would look like. Officers noted that savings produced would be reflected in lower utilities bills for tenants so would not be returned to the same pot. The pilots, particularly around Energy Sprong, would help to firm up the long term picture. The City Leap partnership would also provide opportunities for the future. Stimulation of the market and innovations in delivery would both bring costs down and increase capital to meet costs. The Executive Director emphasised that the pilots and initiatives outlined were designed to demonstrate what may be possible, not necessarily what was cost effective at that stage.

Members supported the ‘whole house’ approach. There was discussion of the two strands of work around reducing carbon and bringing homes up to the energy performance A-C rating as minimum standard, and the benefits of a whole house plan that would address all action required to maximise efficiency and minimise costs.

Members noted the complex nature of the work taking place across multiple sectors, and asked how City Leap as a partner would have an impact across the different work strands. Officers agreed the complex nature of this; the intention would be for City Leap to bring different aspects for different work strands. Where Bristol City Council controlled social housing stock City Leap would be expected to bring access to capital knowledge, technology and innovative working practices. City Leap would also bring commercial opportunities for the private rented sector and identify opportunities for further government funding.

Officers were thanked for the report and the valuable discussion.

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