A new programme worth up to £9.5 million will help reduce the carbon footprint of existing social housing in Wales. This new funding, launched by the Welsh Government, will also make energy bills more manageable for residents along with providing new jobs and training opportunities.
The Optimised Retrofit Programme (ORP), which is part of Innovative Housing Programme, will fund the fitting of energy efficiency measures in up to 1000 existing homes by registered social landlords and councils.
This new investment package will lead to better homes, help to tackle fuel poverty, and continue decarbonisation. Minister for Housing and Local Government Julie James launched the ORP during a visit to Craig Cefn Parc in Swansea. The retrofit scheme of six 1970s bungalows undertaken by Swansea Council trials an approach of how to reduce residents’ energy bills, improve tenant comfort and reduce carbon emissions.
The ORP will support the sector to test different approaches to reach the goal of finally being carbon neutral. It will also include an innovation competition – opening next month – to support the piloting of innovative new solutions for retrofitting housing stock.
The knowledge and learning gained will influence the future of the Welsh Housing Quality Standard so that those who live in social homes will benefit from reduced energy bills and warmer, more energy-efficient homes.
ORP is a key part of the £45 million fourth round of the Innovative Housing Programme which was announced earlier this year. This focuses on building carbon neutral homes using modern methods of construction. The scheme will contribute to plans to reduce greenhouse gases by 95% by 2050 with an ambition to reach net zero in the future. Applications for the Innovative Housing Programme’s fourth year are now officially open.
Announcing the plans, the Minister for Housing and Local Government, Julie James, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the importance of a warm, secure and affordable home like never before. It has also shown the positive effects of reducing greenhouse gasses.
“Housing is responsible for 27% of all energy consumed in Wales and 15% of all demand side greenhouse gas emissions. While we have plans in place to ensure new homes are heated and powered only from clean energy sources, ensuring our existing housing stock is as energy efficient as possible is vital to if we are to meet our ambitious target of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 95% by 2050.
“This scheme is essential to tackling climate change, and driving down household energy costs now and in the future. Helping people, including those on lower incomes, to reduce their fuel bills while keeping their homes warm.”
Economy Minister Ken Skates said: “A welcome boost to the Welsh economy, retrofitting homes will provide quality jobs and training opportunities in the heart of our communities. To help drive forward innovation and build a Welsh supply chain we will be launching a competition for social landlords to apply for research and innovation funding in September.”
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