Climate Committee urges bpha to ‘aim higher’ on social housing energy efficiency

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Cllr Jake Sampson
Cllr Jake Sampson called on the housing association to 'aim higher'

Bedford Borough’s largest housing association, bpha, has been urged to be bold and aim higher to improve the energy efficiency of its homes after its own figures showed that its main target for raising standards affects fewer than 2% of its properties.

bpha is responsible for maintaining around 13,000 homes, mostly in Bedford Borough. In a presentation to the Bedford Borough Climate Change Committee by bpha representatives, it set out its aim to bring all of its properties up to at least a band D energy efficiency rating.

However, this affects just 1.8% of the company’s properties.

Just 221 of bpha’s 12,596 energy efficiency-rated homes having a rating below band D.

Committee member Liberal Democrat Cllr Jake Sampson questioned why bpha isn’t looking beyond this modest target and going further to keep people out of fuel poverty and reduce emissions.

bpha’s presentation to the committee noted that residents whose homes moved from band D to a band C energy rating following recent improvement works in Riseley would save around £130 per year, illustrating just one of the potential gains of looking beyond band D.

Cllr Sampson said, “bpha’s own figures show the huge scope they have for improving energy efficiency across its housing stock.

“A target that can only benefit less than 2% of homes is simply not good enough, and even for those couple of hundred properties the aim is the very modest band D rating.

“That leaves thousands of residents in homes with huge potential for smaller bills and reduced environmental impact.

“bpha should aim higher, on behalf of its residents and our environment. There are all sorts of energy efficiency measures that can be taken to improve standards, and the environmental benefits and financial benefits for residents can be huge.”

Green Party councillor, Lucy Bywater said, ”All housing associations need to be much bolder in terms of both fuel poverty and in terms of their need to reduce carbon emission.

“Energiesprong has done outstanding work retrofitting social housing, in Nottingham for example, to bring homes down to net zero emissions.

“They’re future-proofing these properties and improving quality of life for residents too.”

In response, Julie Wittich, bpha’s executive director of assets, said, “Improving the energy efficiency of our homes is one of bpha’s environment strategy priorities and to clarify currently 80% of our homes have an energy banding of C and above.

“Any properties with a banding of D and below are being managed through our Energy Efficiency Improvement programme, which has made great progress since its launch in 2017 to the extent that we are now working to move to the next level of band C.

“This is in line with the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy and will provide even greater environmental and financial benefits to our customers.

“An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) shows the current and potential energy rating of a property, known as a ‘SAP rating’. ‘SAP’ stands for Standard Assessment Procedure and is the Government’s recommended system for producing a property energy rating.

“bpha’s overall average SAP score across its properties is 73.3, which puts the organisation’s performance against this key measure within the top 25% of Housing Associations.”

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