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PV most popular sustainable energy option for housing associations

Photovoltaics (PV) are the most popular choice of sustainable technology for housing associations, a report by the NHBC Foundation has found, with around three-quarters saying they would use PV products again in the future.

Sustainable technologies – the experience of Housing Associations identified technologies that have worked well, those that had given rise to concerns and the nature of those concerns.

It found that almost two-thirds of housing associations surveyed said they had experience of at least one type of sustainable technology. 

Based on their experiences, the most popular option for use again was PV (75%), and 50-60% of housing associations said that they would expect to use mechanical ventilation and heat recovery and solar thermal hot water in the future.

Water-saving technologies have also been widely used, with low-flush toilets and low-flow taps and showers becoming standard in new homes.  Three quarters of housing associations expect to use these again in future. 

Ground-source heat pumps, exhaust-air heat pumps, greywater recycling and rainwater harvesting delivered the lowest levels of satisfaction, with at least one-third saying they would seek to avoid these products.

The report found that there had been a relative lack of monitoring of performance of sustainable technologies and more research was needed to confirm good technology choices. 

It also noted that while “fabric-first” approaches were becoming more widely established, they would not be sufficient on their own to meet zero-carbon new homes targets and that energy-efficient technologies would also need to be used.

NHBC head of research and innovation Neil Smith said: “The social housing sector has led the way in the use of sustainable technologies.  Because of their ownership and management of significant portfolios of high Code-level sustainable homes, housing associations have been in a position to gain experience of the installation, performance and resident satisfaction with the various technologies.

“This research is aimed at helping the wider house-building industry and others to make better-informed choices. This report identifies technologies that have worked well, those that have given rise to concerns and the nature of those concerns.”

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