Net Zero/Decarbonisation Challenges and Questions 2023
Net Zero topics for Tenant Groups to discuss with their landlord
Some tenant groups have asked us for topical agenda items/subject briefings for their tenant group to discuss with their landlord. TPAS Cymru have created a briefing series that we call ‘The Agenda’ which provides tenant groups with an overview of a subject and suggestions of questions you might want to ask in your engagement with your landlord.
We’re sure that you’ve heard the word ‘Net Zero’ or ‘decarbonisation’ in the last few months, and new policies are coming out to make Welsh housing more sustainable, healthy for tenants, and low energy cost. Though the intention of these policies is to help achieve the goal of getting Wales to Net Zero by 2050, it can be difficult to keep up with the terminology, reasonings, and case studies done thus far.
To alleviate and answer some of your potential questions around what Net Zero really is, we will outline some of the key points, challenges, and what you need to know right now. This edition of the Agenda will also give you an overview of what some of the leading topics are in Net Zero and some questions that you might want to ask your landlord.
What is Net Zero?
Wales has set the goal to be Net Zero by 2050.
Net Zero is a target to completely negate the amount of greenhouse gases produced by human activity and is to be achieved by reducing emissions and putting in methods to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. These challenges have led to the creation of a number of Welsh Government programs in an effort to achieve Net Zero by 2050.
Wales has some of the oldest housing stock, with most housing in Wales being built between 1932-1980. Because of this, many homes do not have proper insulation installed, causing a heat loss of 33% through the walls and 25% through the roof. Heating a home and hot water account for 3/4th the total amount of energy used in a home, and Net Zero asks the question of how this can be made cheaper while being friendlier for the environment.
Challenges and Issues:
There are a few challenges that arise while we achieve the goal of a Net Zero Wales:
Every home will need a pathway to Zero. By this, we mean that every single property in Wales will need an assessment and surveyance of what needs to be done or installed in the property to make it more energy efficient and low carbon. This will take resources and time, and Wales doesn’t have enough people trained in this right now to achieve our goals.
There are many solutions and paths that landlords are taking in reducing their stock’s emissions, and these decisions come down to cost, time, and lifespan of the products. Therefore, there will be some solutions that RSL’s and LA’s will prefer, but that tenants will not like. A heat pump has different usability requirements than another system like radiant heating or even your traditional gas boiler, and it could be difficult for tenants to adapt to the new systems and changed behaviours that come with them.
Net Zero works tend to be disruptive, and they take time to get done. Tenants may find it challenging if they need to let in workers for days and weeks at a time, and sometimes the works may need to be done in two stages.
Would tenants prefer it all be done at the same time but take longer, or do it in multiple stages where it takes less time each stage, but workers have to return to the property more frequently?
Different Net Zero solutions have different levels of cost, not just in installation, but in running costs, maintenance, and repairs. Tenants are rightly concerned about the total cost that it will have on them, and a potential issue is that some solutions may be cheaper for the landlord, but that doesn’t mean that tenants are saving money in the long run.
We’ve found that these challenges can be overcome if tenants are engaged with on Net Zero and are kept in the conversation of what they could potentially see done to their property. Unfortunately, tenants can fall to the side-lines during the planning process, so we’ve outlined some questions that you might find useful to ask your landlord about their plans for Net Zero.
Examples of questions to ask your landlord:
1. What technology will be put in my home and why?
2. What considerations have you made for tenant experience and lifestyle?
3. What case studies can you share that involve the selected course of action?
4. What is maintenance like for the technologies?
5. What are the running costs of the systems? What will my bills look like every month?
We hope you have enjoyed reading this edition of The Agenda. We would love to hear about any conversations you’ve had with your landlord regarding this topic, so please email [email protected] with any feedback or further questions.