17 November, 2022

A Just Green Transition

 How the housing sector can deliver sustainable communities alongside sustainable homes.

Executive Summary

When we started the research for this white paper at the beginning of 2022, the sector was fully engaged with the decarbonisation challenge it faced. Indeed, we were overwhelmed by requests to take part in the roundtables that would inform much of the content of this report. 

Now, ten months later, the sector is facing an array of challenges, including the impact of the cost of living crisis on residents, the rising costs of retrofit materials and the likelihood of a below inflation rent increase. One potential consequence is that some retrofit programmes will be temporarily shelved. 

And yet the climate crisis has not gone away. 

There is still an urgent need for the sector to prioritise the decarbonisation of its stock. And simultaneously, the need for this process to result in a just green transition is more relevant than ever.

To deliver this, we have identified six principles housing associations should incorporate into their sustainability strategy, so that the investment made into making homes sustainable results in sustainable communities:

  1. Embed the principles of a just green transition into your plans and the subsequent approaches you take on the journey to net zero.
  2. Co-produce your retrofit and green energy solutions with tenants and residents – they must be active partners and cannot be treated as guinea pigs. 
  3. Measure your impact: model, monitor and report on how the investment you make in your homes has resulted in an investment into your communities, including improvements to the lives of those who live in your homes and wider communities. 
  4. Turn the challenges you face in the lack of retrofit skills into an opportunity, accelerating and expanding green skills across your communities by investing in new skills and jobs.
  5. Decarbonisation is only one part of the problem we have to address. Your sustainability strategy should not just be about decarbonisation. You also need to focus on responding to the impact of climate change and build this into your strategy.
  6. Look for opportunities to collaborate across the social housing sector and across your communities. We don’t have all the answers but we can achieve more together than alone. This white paper includes examples of best practice that are already happening across the UK (these are highlighted throughout the report). Across the sector, there are some inspirational examples of housing associations actively engaging with their residents, creating green jobs or working in partnership with other organisations. We need to build on these examples, sharing best practice, ideas and evidence so that collectively, as a sector, we can be at the forefront of realising a just green transition. This green transition needs to be a just transition, where we open up opportunities for people and communities who experience the worst inequalities and are most impacted by climate change. 

    If we get this right, we can avoid the mistakes of the past and deliver a green transition that is not only just, but enhances the wellbeing of both people and planet. 

    For our benefit. 

    And for those of future generations who will live in our homes and communities. 


A Just Green Transition

 How the housing sector can deliver sustainable communities alongside sustainable homes 

PUBLISHED: November 2022

AUTHORS: HACT in collaboration with Tpas, Fusion21, Build East and PlaceShapers

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