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Social housing residents need education on renewables

Social housing providers can lead the way on sustainable building, but residents need to be educated on using new low carbon technology or the investment could be wasted.

David Daniels, board member at south Norfolk-based Saffron Housing Trust, told the Solar Smart HEAT 2008 conference organised by Cambridge Investment Research, that the challenge of education should not be under estimated.

He said his trust was keen to integrate technologies such as heat pumps or design approaches like PassivHaus, but he said: “One of the biggest problems we have is educating the user. That is one of the things we struggle with generically in how we get this technology into real user applications. That is quite a challenge to everyone.

“In our situation at a housing association our residents really struggle when we build new houses with lots of nice smart technology and it is a problem actually getting them to use that technology.”

Mr Daniels said it was an important issue as there were more than eight million houses operated by social landlords in the UK and the Government wanted another million to be built over the next 12 years with rising expectations for energy performance.

He added that innovative social landlords often found approaches such as heat recovery, mechanical ventilation and low energy lighting was not recognised by Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) the system for assessing energy performance of buildings.

He said: “It is a real challenge as a builder, contractor and developer of millions of houses to say we want to build this way and the measurements you are marking us on are yesterday’s measurements.”

Another challenge highlighted by Mr Daniels was the skill set now needed to maintain thousands of renewables applications. He said: “That is an issue that the majority of housing associations will struggle with.