York outlines £2m plans to retrofit council homes

City of York Council plans to spend an initial £1m on retrofitting homes starting next summer, bringing around 60 homes up to an EPC C rating.
The skyline overlooking the city of York, England.
The skyline of the city of York, North Yorkshire. Credit: Pixabay

City of York Council has outlined plans to improve the energy efficiency of its homes to tackle fuel poverty and support the city’s aim of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

The council has proposed spending an initial £1 million on retrofitting homes starting from summer 2021, bringing around 60 poorer-performing homes up to an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of C.

Alongside this initial phase of works, the council plans to develop a strategy to retrofit more homes over the medium and long term, with a further investment of £250,000 a year earmarked over the next four years.

Cllr Paula Widdowson, executive member for environment and climate change on City of York Council, said: “As a third of York’s carbon emissions are created by domestic energy consumption it is vital that we act. We cannot meet our carbon reduction ambition for 2030 without a programme of making lasting energy efficiency improvements to all housing in the city.

“We need to develop a delivery strategy which unlocks a financially sustainable route to investing in energy efficiency in our housing stock. With a fast-changing government policy position such a strategy would enable us to act swiftly to apply for grant funding opportunities when they arise.”

Two thirds of York’s council homes already have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of C or above – the minimum standard that homes will soon be expected to achieve.

However, the city’s remaining council homes require more complex retrofit improvements to bring them up to EPC C levels, such as fitting internal or external insulation and ground source heat pumps.

To help deliver these energy saving measures, the council will develop a strategy to upskill local tradespeople to undertake the necessary retrofit works.

The council says that building a local supply chain of retrofit contractors would help support its economic strategy and support new jobs.

Cllr Denise Craghill, executive member for housing and safer neighbourhoods on the council, said: “Getting a ‘fabric first’ retrofit programme underway to bring some of our worst performing homes up to EPC C will help around 60 of our tenant households to benefit from lower energy bills and warmer, healthier and more comfortable homes.

“It will also mean that we can develop local skills training and approaches to retrofit, providing a pipeline of work for local contractors and creating local green jobs.

“It will give us a track record that will best position us to access external funding which is now starting to become available, particularly for those councils who are taking a lead. Keeping some further funding back at this point to use for match funding and to help us develop our strategy will also enable us to go on and improve the energy efficiency of many more council homes in the future.”

The report outlining the council housing energy retrofit programme is set to be heard by a meeting of the council’s executive tomorrow (15 December 2020).

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