02 Guest Blog

Sharing Knowledge is the Key to Reducing Carbon in Housing

Guest Blog: Richard Orr, Head of Assets and Regeneration, River Clyde Homes

In my recent guest blog I discussed Clyde River Homes’ role in helping to decarbonise the built environment, both as part of strategic alliances, such as the international Buildings Action Coalition, as well as on a local level by reducing carbon in our own housing stock.

However, as a sector there is more River Clyde Homes and other Scottish social landlords must do if we are to meet our obligations and the national ambition of being net zero carbon by 2045.

I believe that the key to accelerating progress towards this ambition is to increase collaboration and knowledge sharing between landlords, as well as with the wider supply chain, including manufacturers such as NorDan UK.

The impending climate emergency means we now have a moral obligation to assist each other in answering key questions and providing access to information.

This includes sharing critical knowledge on specification, how we finance change, and the kinds of conversations we need to have with our boards to enable us to set our own low-carbon design parameters.

The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations and is already doing some great work in this area, as are some of the more progressive housing providers like Glasgow City Council. I was impressed that the City Council recently shared its localised heat metrics.

But we need to do far more to combine our collective knowledge and best practice, something that should be easily achievable considering the relatively small size of the industry in Scotland.

It is only when housing providers begin to act in a more coordinated way, engaging with each other and the supply chain, that procurement will benefit from economies of scale and deliver better outcomes.

If we do not, we will continue to see hundreds of individual housing providers all competing for the same finite volume of products later in the purchasing cycle.

Take NorDan as an example: How many new windows will it need to manufacture to replace ageing and inferior units across the Scottish housing sector over the next decade as part of the net zero journey?

I am not sure anyone really knows the answer.

We can of course make broad assumptions, but it is important that we try and agree a process to understand the size and scale of the need, as well as an efficient delivery mechanism.

If we can get this right, then manufacturers like NorDan will have the capacity to meet the needs of the market.

To make this work housing providers also have an obligation to each of the supply chains we encounter, such as giving our suppliers more visibility of our pipeline of work.

We also need to better understand the positive impact of these projects, such as the reduction in embodied carbon from the use of low-carbon products, as well as the benefits to the local economy and people in the community.

I want to play my role in cascading to my peers, manufacturers and suppliers, what I have learnt at River Clyde Homes, so there can be better alignment instead of everyone scrambling for the same limited supply, which in turn drives prices up.

This philosophy means organisations like NorDan UK, who are trying to do the right thing, and produce the right products, can do even better for housing associations like River Clyde Homes.

Ultimately this approach will create much better outcomes for everyone, from the housing providers and their residents, right through to the supply chain, ensuring we all work together to meet the environmental and sustainability targets that are so important.

Richard Orr is the Head of Assets and Regeneration at River Clyde Homes.

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Jun 11, 2024
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