We are featuring news items relating to green and environmental issues as they relate to landlords.

A useful document for other local authorities, businesses and interested parties to use as a base for education, planning and understanding of how to get houses (both new and existing) to 'Net Zero' has been jointly produced by West Oxfordshire District Council, Cotswold District Council and the Forest of Dean Council.

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Commissioned by the Greater London Authority and written by the Carbon Trust, this report is not surprisingly very supportive of heat pumps but what it does do better than most previous attempts is to identify what government (both local and national) needs to do and also, how building owners - whether landlords like us, social housing providers or local authorities need to do to get heat pumps in place, how they should go about it and what the benefits of doing so will be. 

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The question of how to bring historic buildings up to modern energy efficiency standards is a tough one - especially in conservation areas (of which Portsmouth has 30+) where heat pumps hanging on the side of buildings is probably not a desirable outcome but where something has to be done.

Local councils, all of ours included, have been turning a blind eye to this issue - presumably in the hope that someone else will solve this particular problem. When we saw a document called 'Energy Efficiency & Historic Buildings' produced by Historic England we were overjoyed that someone had finally faced up to the issue.

Sadly, this document is not that - we enclose it below, it is a good explanation of what heat pumps are and how they are used and many of the amusing illustrations are superb, but it is the document they should have produced 10 years ago - not the one we need now as people look to move away from gas boilers and need real and specific guidance.

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The good news is that the government has finally published its 'Heat and Buildings Strategy' and answered the big question about whether we will use heat pumps or hydrogen. The bad news is that it will cost us all a lot of money (but we always knew that it would)  

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Get your tickets for one of the sessions at this 2 day event at Portsmouth Guildhall on Tuesday & Wednesday, 9th and 10th November, 

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See this months newsletter from the Switched On Portsmouth team at PCC 

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Why are we 2nd worst in Europe for heat pump installations?  Why does the government continue to fund gas boilers? What are Bristol doing that perhaps we should? What should Local Authorities be doing? And why doesn't the Government understand.

We definitely don't have all the answers, but we have some great articles that discuss some of the issues.

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We are reprinting here an article by Ray Boydell, Visiting Lecturer in Sustainable Devt @ Heriot-Watt Uni as it summarises well the challenge we all face if we are to bring our properties to 'net zero', including an estimate of cost at £26,000 per property. 

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Plans just submitted for a new 12-storey teaching block on the site of the old Victoria Swimming Baths set the bar for new development in the city. If it gets built as currently proposed, it will provide an excellent example of the standards we all need to be striving for, as we develop our properties.

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Many of us who took advantage of the local authority supported cavity wall insulation have been plagued by mould and damp problems we never had before - but one effective solution is insulating paint.

Yes, it does exist and this is not an April / August fool - insulating paint really works. Don't believe it, well we have the pictures to prove it...

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  If you missed our 'Green Panel' at the last meeting, view the session in the members area here. A well attended event with a wide range of expert speakers.

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Heat Pump Month, backed by Ground Source Heat Pump Association (GSHPA), Heat Pump Association (HPA), Heat Pump Federation (HPF) and MCS kicks off on Thursday 17th June with a month-long series of free-to-attend online events to bring together housing, built-environment, policy and installation professionals to collaborate around one the UK's greatest carbon-reduction challenges – our homes.

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For the past two years the Low Carbon Hub has been the lead project partner on Cosy Homes Oxfordshire,  developing a one-stop whole house retrofit service to offer homeowners a simple way to reduce the carbon emissions from their homes by making energy improvements. During this time, we have designed and tested an end-to-end domestic whole house retrofit service for the able-to-pay market in Oxfordshire, building on existing experience of this model from RetrofitWorks. It appears that the biggest issue is not customer willingness, but lack of readiness in the supply chain

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So, you need a new boiler. It is a choice between £2-4k to replace the gas one or £4-8k for the much greener air source heat pump that you know will be your only option in 10 years time, but which looks too expensive now. Well – with RHI it is typically cheaper…  

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This month we had the Solent Retrofit conference, a revealing report from the MCS organisation, the death of the Green Homes Grant Scheme and early warning that the days of EPC's may be numbered too – what is going on and how do you keep up? 

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If you drive any vehicle with an internal combustion engine, whether it be petrol, diesel or one of those hybrids that pretends to be green but still hides an ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) under the bonnet - you really need to watch this... 

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Portsmouth City Council have secured £3.1 million to fund solid wall insulation in Portsmouth, Gosport, and other surrounding areas. This funding is part of the Government's Green Home Grant scheme, but offers a direct link to installer. The local scheme (under the LADS umbrella - Local Authority Delivery Scheme) is run in partnership with Agility Eco, who have quality checked and on-boarded installers to support the scheme. Applying for the funding through the PCC scheme should avoid previous issues securing an installer to complete the works (as we have heard many have had issues through the voucher strand of the GHG scheme).

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The PDPLA are working with a  range of organisations including PCC and Green Tech South to understand inhibitors and help find solutions to the challenge of making existing housing stock carbon neutral.

The good news is that there will be a 3 session conference in March to help answer all of your questions and attendance is free to PDPLA members. The precise format and speakers are still being finalised but we recommend you book your place as soon as you can.

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Over recent months we have heard much talk of the governments 10-point climate change plan and have seen elements of it, such as the introduction of the Green Homes Grant (see our comments on that here). This month, we finally have the full list of 10 areas of focus. Read on for our explanation of the plan and what it means, if anything, for landlords.

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Fareham Council followed Portsmouth, Southampton, Reading and others last month in stating that it wanted all of its activities to be carbon neutral by 2030. Portsmouth City Council has been on this path for a while, installing solar panels on schools and other public buildings, housing blocks and other properties throughout the city since 2016.This month, Portsmouth became the proud owner of the UK's largest operational Tesla Powerwall installation.

But what is a Powerwall, should you care and what does it mean for local landlords? 

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We have had several members complaining about the difficulty of finding an installer to undertake work under the Green Grant scheme and PCC  have confirmed that installers are focussing on ECO  to get 'quick wins'.

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If you have a property that is EPC band E or worse and the tenant/s income in that property is no more than £30,000 per year, then you really need to take advantage of the Green Homes Grant. We have stated before that for most homes this appears to be targeted at too narrow a segment, but if you have a property that falls into that segment you really do need to take advantage of it.  

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The energy performance certificate (EPC ) has been with us now since 1st August 2007 in England and Wales. Like all new regulations required by central government, in the beginning this was a good idea. Allowing tenants to compare running costs of similar properties and estimate the running costs of properties going forward.

Unfortunately, like most adopted by the government, the standards increase over time and are ratcheted up until they become more of a burden than a benefit to Landlords.

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We had hoped the MEES (Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard) consultation would be launched in time for this months newsletter, but while it is imminent, it is not out yet.

What we can say is that the pace of change is increasing. In our heading block above, we talk about EPC C or better by 2030, yet over the past month we have heard government suggest that this may be brought forward to 2028 and we have also heard suggestions that gas boilers will need to be phased out completely in a similar timeframe.

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The latest government green housing initiative starts this month – whilst other landlord groups have hailed it positively, we see it as an opportunity missed and confirmation that central government really do not understand landlords or our business.  

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