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Social Housing decarbonisation

Gravesham Borough Council partners with Kensa to deliver carbon savings in social housing.

The social rented sector consists of four million households in England (18% of all households), and more than 80% of homes will still be in use in 2050. Housing providers and Local Authorities are driven to provide quality and affordable to run housing.

However, many homes are not energy efficient (71% homes EPC E, F, G), and this leads to fuel poverty and accentuates social deprivation. Eliminating the carbon emissions from an existing building will leave it more comfortable and more cost-effective to run.

Kensa Contracting, a specialist renewable installation business works with Local Authorities and Housing Associations to replace fossil fuel heating in social housing and replace them with low-carbon networked ground source heat pumps.

Recently, they partnered with Gravesham Borough Council to install low carbon ground source heat pumps at two of the council’s housing developments in Gravesend as part of the authority’s work towards achieving net-zero status by 2030.

Boreholes are being drilled at Merston Court and Hermitage Road, Gravesend, ahead of the installation of the pumps, which are predicted to save almost 36 tonnes of carbon over the next 20 years and reduce energy bills for residents.

The introduction of a ground source heat pump in 11 properties in Hermitage Court is expected to see a saving of 24 tonnes of carbon over 20 years, while at Merston Court, ground source heat pumps in five retrofitted properties will see 13.67 tonnes of carbon saved over the same period.

Cllr Jenny Wallace, Gravesham Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing Services, said: “Our independent living homes at Merston Court currently rely on electric storage heaters, which are inefficient, expensive to run and have reached the end of their lives, while the flats at Hermitage Road have gas boilers.

“Ground source heat pumps are a tried and tested technology here in the UK. These new ground source heat pumps will improve the energy efficiency ratings of all these homes and significantly reduce their carbon footprint, and bring real financial benefits for our tenants.”

The work comes at the same time as the news that more than 350 homes owned by the council will have their energy efficiency improved after the authority successfully applied for more than £800,000 from the Government’s Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund.

Kensa partnered with Gravesham Borough Council to install low carbon ground source heat pumps at two of the council’s social housing developments.

The government committed to the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF) in 2019, with a proposed £3.8bn available over a ten-year period to help decarbonise a significant amount of social housing stock.

The fund subsidises measures such as ground source heat pump installations to tackle fuel poverty, reduce emissions and increase the energy efficiency of homes.

Wave 1, which ran in the financial year 2021/22, awarded £179m of funding to 69 projects which will improve the energy performance of around 20,000 social homes.

The council is one of only two in Kent to successfully apply to the fund and will receive a grant of £823,337. Gravesham will contribute £800,170 to the project, meaning a total of £1,623,507 will be spent on upgrading the energy performance of 364 council-owned properties in the Borough in 2022/23.

It is expected that Wave 2 of the fund will be worth £800m across three years. Future funding waves are subject to treasury approval.

Cllr Wallace said: “We are doing all we can to upgrade our council-owned homes and help us towards our net-zero target. The installation of these new ground source heat pumps will bring real benefits for the environment and our residents alike.”

Stuart Gasden, Commercial Director of Kensa Contracting, said: “We are delighted to be working with Gravesham Borough Council to install ground source heat pumps at Merston Court and Hermitage Road.

“The project’s success is a result of close collaboration between the council, its residents, and Kensa and will significantly reduce carbon emissions and positively impact residents’ lives. We look forward to developing our partnership with the council and installing this technology at further locations around Gravesham.”

He continues: “Kensa is urging local authorities and housing providers to start preparing their Wave 2 applications now to increase their chances of securing funding to decarbonise housing stock and tackle fuel poverty.”

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