Housing co-ops win funding bid for energy-efficient retrofits

The successful consortium bid will see 113 properties upgraded with match funding of up to £1.2m from the government

A consortium of housing co-ops has won a bid for government funds to decarbonise 113 properties, with the goal of creating a retrofit model for other social landlords to copy.

Sector apex the Confederation of Co-operative Housing (CCH) worked with the consortium on the bid, to Wave 2.1 of the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero’s (DESNZ) Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF). The fund aims to boost energy efficiency in social housing stock across the country.

Led by Lambeth Self Help Housing Association, the consortium will receive up to £1.2m in match funding, which will see 113 co-operative properties upgraded to above EPC rating C, in line with the DESNZ’s net zero agenda. 

The co-operatives in the consortium are:

  • Lambeth Self Help Housing Association [lead applicant], London
  • Somewhere Housing Co-operative, Bristol
  • Two Piers Housing Co-operative, Brighton
  • Phoenix Co-operative Housing Society, London
  • Waverley (Eighth) Co-operative Housing Association, London
  • Clissold Housing Co-operative, London
  • Tangram Housing Co-operative, Leeds

The consortium says it wants to create a simple and affordable model for co-operative social landlords to install appropriate retrofit measures at scale. CCH says it has worked with the group “to develop an innovative, replicable structure that will reduce individual co-operative expenditure and speed up the installation of retrofit measures”.

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The funding will be used in two ways:

  • in partnership with co-operative residents, CCH will develop a net zero route map for each consortium member centred around a 25-year plan for stock upgrade
  • it will then kick start the first wave of capital works, delivering a series of fabric first upgrades and appropriate space heating demand reduction.

CCH lists a range of measures that begin with fabric improvements including loft and roof insulation; internal and external wall insulation; floor insulation and window upgrades, complimented by optimised heating and ventilation measures.

The retrofits will be carried out on a varied set of hard-to-treat older stock properties, to promote the use of appropriate natural insulation measures to use on traditional archetypes.

This comes with additional challenges, says CCH, which will work with a range of partners including contractors and energy consultants on the scheme. It adds that it will provide training and upskilling opportunities at consortium level to increase workforce capacity and nurture the supply chain to deliver the works.

James Neward, CCH retrofit associate, said: “The success of this pilot bid not only helps CCH support this pioneering group of London, South East, South West & Yorkshire co-operatives in upgrading their homes, but also helps build a national network of skilled retrofit partners and a way of working that can benefit the co-operative housing sector more widely.

“I’m really pleased with the team we’ve built, over the moon that the bid has been backed, and excited to continue working with the consortium partners to upgrade their homes and reduce their member’s energy bills.”

Julie Timbrell from Lambeth Self Help Housing Association, said: “We are very pleased that our consortium application to SHDF Wave 2.1. has been successful. Lambeth Self Help and all the members of our consortium are committed to providing safe and affordable housing for our tenants, and this grant will allow us to take a significant step forward in achieving that goal.

“The SHDF is a significant investment in our properties and will enable us to make a real difference to the lives of our tenants. By reducing energy bills, we will be able to help tackle fuel poverty and improve the living conditions of our residents, while also contributing, in a small way, to the country’s climate change goals.

“We are grateful to the Confederation of Co-operative Housing for their hard work, support, professionalism and invaluable advice.”

CCH CEO Blase Lambert said: “I am delighted that the consortium of our member co-operatives has been successful in securing an allocation from the SHDF. James and the team have worked tirelessly in supporting these and other members since we launched our Retrofit support service last year and I look forward to this initial programme providing a blueprint for members across the country.”

Lord Callanan, minister for energy efficiency and green finance, said: “This investment will help thousands of households to heat their homes for less, keep them warm for longer and could save hundreds on their annual energy bill.

 “The green energy sector is growing, and this funding will support green jobs and provide the training needed to deliver these vital upgrades to homes.”