By Legal Futures Associate SearchFlow
The impacts of climate change are high on every sector’s agenda, and property is no exception. Organisations globally are joining the race to drastically decrease carbon emissions and play their part in halting climate catastrophe, many starting close to home with a wholesale review of their assets.
A multi-faceted challenge for housing providers
For housing associations with often large and complex asset portfolios, the challenge is considerable: much social housing stock does not even reach an EPC ‘C’ rating currently, raising the question of the work and costs involved in improving energy performance. Research1 by Inside Housing in 2020 calculated that the cost to retrofit all UK’s social housing stock to zero carbon standards is around an eye-watering £104bn.
Providers are already actively scoping exactly what is involved in this significant task in their short, mid, and long-range business plans, and much work is already underway. But the challenge is not just financial – housing associations have big decisions to make about prioritisation. From surveying existing stock to understanding where retrofit improvements can be made, to identifying and disposing of non-strategic or non-viable assets for retrofitting, to identifying sites for sustainable new-build developments, decisions of this scale and significance demand data and insight.
Deeper data, better decisions
Data-led asset management is foundational to a robust decision-making process when it comes to the race to net zero. The types of useful data – and the insights that come with it – are varied. At the more obvious end of the scale, housing associations need easy access to relevant data for determining the feasibility of a new location to:
- identify land ownership
- uncover potential hazards such as flood or subsidence risk,
- assess a location’s land-use constraints or planning restrictions.
But, as SearchFlow demonstrates with our parent company, Landmark Information Group, it’s also possible to calculate future risk relating to different climate scenarios. Landmark is working with mortgage lenders, developers, and investors to assess climate-related risks by individual property addresses, using a combination of environmental data and risk modelling techniques. This assessment not only supports the investment process in new sites, but also helps to paint a clear and current picture of future climate-related risks that could impact existing portfolios.
Invest or divest?
For housing providers seeking to define their roadmap to net zero, this level of data insight will prove to be invaluable in facilitating evidence-based decisions against such high stakes as climate emergency and cost. Any decisions housing providers make around retrofitting, asset disposal or and new build developments – essentially, invest or divest – will have powerful consequences.
In the race to net zero, housing providers have been handed the baton; now the task is not to drop it. The wrong decisions can be costly – for the organisation, for its stakeholders and – most critically – for the planet. The shift to data-informed asset management, on the other hand, is a decision that guarantees clear benefits. It’s time for housing associations to seize the opportunity and run with it.
Find out how SearchFlow can help: Contact Rob Steadman, Business Development Director, to find out more.
Click here to read our latest article on Social Housing: Making Data Intelligence for Enhanced Asset Management Accessible.