The momentous year of 2020 seems a very long time ago and since we were all in the throes of the Covid 19 pandemic all construction initiatives were on hold. However, if you were keeping your finger on the construction industry’s pulse from your home office or spare room, you might remember the launch of a very significant green initiative by the government. With a hefty £3.8Bn budget attached, it was called the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, whose money would be allocated to councils and housing associations in phases over ten years.
Three years on, a substantial tranche of that fund is going into action in an initiative designed to help housing associations hit the governments stated objective: that all social housing is EPC C-rated by 2030. In an impressive rallying of resources, the Green Futures Partnership, comprising members of Sanctuary, Hyde, Home Group, Anchor and Abri, operate some 300,000 homes between them and represent about 9% of the entire social housing sector. All of which are to get the benefit of that £1.48Bn budget to get them all fully retrofitted for energy efficiency with solar panels, heat pumps, insulation and new windows.
That’s good news for the construction industry as a whole – and even better news for the 107 firms who’ve been named as suppliers for the structured 7-year project, including Kier, Vinci, Morgan Sindall and Wates. With a framework comprising three main workstreams – construction up to £5m, construction over £2.5m and consultancy – the Green Futures Partnership offers a refreshingly positive perspective on the environmental challenges our industry faces. As its contract notice puts it, the aim is to “create a truly collaborative framework where all parties contribute and continually develop best practice in the field of decarbonisation”.
An ambitious scheme? Certainly. But is it achievable? Well, that remains to be seen. It has been suggested in some quarters that there aren’t enough skilled retrofit workers to achieve the levels of housing stock decarbonisation proposed – but to be fair to the GFP, it isn’t claiming the project is without challenges – indeed it said at launch that it hoped to rise to the challenge of “procuring services and goods against a backdrop of soaring demand and supply pressure”.