Why Sustainability Matters

Your Questions Answered

Sustainability and Internal Refurb - Making Lancaster West sustainable by 2030

What do we mean by sustainability?

The most common definition for sustainability is from a 1987 United Nations report and describes it as ‘meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. 
Sustainability has three pillars: 
- Environmental – living within the means of natural resources and aspiring to net-zero carbon 
Economic – using resources efficiently and responsibly 
Social – achieving good social wellbeing 

All of these are very closely linked and its necessary to try and promote all three in harmony, but generally we are talking about environmental sustainability. Environmental sustainability covers a range of different areas, including:

-Reducing carbon emissions and tackling climate change 
-Improving air quality
-Improving green spaces and biodiversity 
-Tackling fuel poverty and lowering fuel bills
-Recycling and minimising waste 
-Using sustainable materials and not exploiting resources

We’re tackling these key issues through our sustainability programme to help transform Lancaster West into a model 21st century estate. 

Why does the estate need to become more sustainable?

Climate change is an undeniable problem which threatens all our futures, and this is being caused by thr fact that across the worl we're overusing fossil fuels to generate energy. The most important thing we can do to limit climate change is to change the way that we use resources and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

The UK Government has passed a law committing the whole of the UK to bring its greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050. To achieve this, everyone will need to do their bit by reducing their energy demand and switching to renewable sources of energy. Housing makes up 18% of total UK emissions, so it will be necessary to make homes across the UK more suitable to reach this goal, and more laws are likely to be brought in to make this happen. 

Sustainability also brings a whole range of other benefits. By making the estate more sustainable, we can make it a healthier, greener, more comfortable, and more affordable place to live. 

What are our sustainability goals?

Our main goal is for Lancaster West to become a model net-zero carbon estate by 2030. Carbon is emitted when we use energy for things like electricity and heating, so we need to work to reduce the amount of energy we use on the estate and get the energy we do use from low-carbon renewable sources. 

The key priorities we are focusing on to achieve this are:
- Making homes more energy efficient, warm and comfortable.
- Switching the heating and energy we use to a clean and green supply.
- Creating a green estate with a thriving environment.
- Engaging residents on the co-design of their estate.

Are you being ambitious enough about reducing carbon emissions?

Our ambition is for Lancaster West to be a net-zero carbon estate by 2030. This is in line with the broader Council goal for all its operation (including housing) to be net-zero by 2030, and ahead of the UK Government goal for the UK to become net-zero by 2050. This is an ambitious but achievable target that we will be able to reach by working closely with residents, experts, and other government organisations. 

Sustainability and Internal refurb - Refurbishment and Delivery

What works will be done on the estate to meet these sustainability goals?

The most effective way of reducing carbon emissions from housing is to make the homes more energy efficient , so we'll be doing a lot of work in individual properties across the estate to do this, as a part of both the internal refurbishment and major refurbishment of the estate. 
Where appropriate, as a part of the internal refurbishment project, we are installing wall, floor, and roof insulation to properties. Insulation effectively works like a thermal blanket for properties and keeps them warm, reducing their heating demand and making them more comfortable. 

When replacing appliances in kitchens and bathrooms we are installing energy efficient options, such as induction cookers, Methven Aurajet shower heads, which save 25% of water used in each shower, and dual flushing toilets. We are also replacing lighting energy efficient LED bulbs.

Alongside this, further improvements will be made to homes through the major refurbishment of the estate. While the details of this will be decided by residents, this will include the replacement of windows and changes to building fabric to make it more thermally and energy efficient. We are also upgrading the current heating systems and connecting the estate to a new energy efficient, low-carbon district heating network. 

What is already being done to make the estate more sustainable?

We're already taking action to make the estate more sustainable. We're currently trailing different methods and products in void properties, and a few tenanted properties, which may be rolled out across the estate. 
The tea garden has been created, which provides a new pleasant green space on the estate. The herbs grown in the garden n can also be used by residents, which is more sustainable than buying them from the supermarket. We are continuing to explore options to further increase biodiversity and green spaces. 

Recycling bins in homes and across the estate help to divert waste from landfill and contribute to sustainability goals. We have also provided hot box composting bins to make compost for the community gardens and are on track to save 1,456 litres of food waste from entering landfill. 

The LWNT are also reducing emissions from our own operations. 30% of repairs operatives and 20% of LWNT staff are local residents and walk to work, saving 5 tonnes of carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere per year . Repair operatives are also using cargo bikes to make repairs and we have replaced the team's van with 2 zero-emissions electric vans.

How will this affect individual properties?

The need to make the estate more sustainable is one of the key drivers behind the internal refurbishment programme and will provide some direction to the work that we do. We will consult with residents at every point of the process to make sure you're happy with any sustainable changes to properties, but could include better insulation, doors, new energy efficient appliances in kitchens and bathrooms and new heating controls. 
Making these changes will reduce the energy demand of homes, and consequently reduce their carbon emissions as well as this, they should make homes more comfortable by keeping them warm in winter and stopping overheating in summer; reducing draughts, condensation, and mould. 

Will these changed address problems of overheating?

It's important that all changes we make to properties both help us to reduce the estate's carbon footprint, and help make homes more comfortable. This includes addressing issues of homes being cold in winter, overheating  in summer, as well as any issues with damp, mould, and condensation. Improving insulation helps to regulate the temperature of properties at a comfortable level while improving ventilation ensures constant supply of fresh air and will address problems of overheating. 

Is anything being done to recycle waste from the refurbishment (such as windows and kitchen unites)? 

We're working closely with suppliers and contractors to ensure that high sustainability standards are upheld throughout delivery of the refurbishment. Our suppliers have made commitments around recycling and reusing materials and appliances and diverting waste from landfill wherever possible. 
Where possible, appliances removed from properties will be collected and processed via our contractor's recycling plant. Vinyl floor removed from properties is also being recycled and we are purchasing this recycled flooring for the refurb where possible.
We have also made agreements with suppliers to ensure that materials used in the refurbishment are sustainably sourced wherever possible, and that sustainable methods are used for installation and transportation of new materials and appliances and waste. 

Sustainability and Internal refurb - Cost

Where will the money come from for this?
Due to the need to make housing more sustainable to meet the UK Government’s net-zero target, there are various funds available from UK Government and the Greater London Authority in support of sustainable initiatives. We’re exploring opportunities for grant funding and other ways of financing our sustainable changes and continuously exploring opportunities for new sources of funding. Making use of these opportunities means that we can free up additional funding to make further improvements to homes as part of the internal refurb.

Will this increase costs for residents? 

We are looking to fund sustainable changes primarily through grant funding and other finance opportunities from UK Government and the Greater London Authority to ensure that the cost of making the estate sustainable is minimised and will not need to be passed on to residents. We are also doing feasibility studies for all major changes to ensure that they're viable and will bring both environmental benefits and long-term financial benefits to residents. 

Will there be any cost benefit to residents? 

Making homes more energy efficient means that less energy is needed to heat and power them. All of the options we are exploring will help reduce the demand for homes and therefore will reduce costs for residents. For example, putting insulation around home is effectively like putting a jacket around a home and keeps it warmer, meaning that there is less of a need to use central heating to keep it warm. A-rated appliances are highly energy efficient and similarly can save energy requirements and costs. As a result, some of the changes being made in the internal refurb will lower the energy requirements for homes and reduce the cost of energy bills in the long term. 

Sustainability and Internal refurb - Measuring success

What does success look like? 
Ultimately, we want Lancaster West to be a net-zero carbon estate by 2030 and this is our main success criteria. So, we’ll have succeeded if in 10 years, we have refurbished the estate to high energy efficiency standards in a way that residents are happy with, have developed an efficient low-carbon heat network and provide most of the energy on the estate via renewable sources. 
In the shorter term, success can be seen by progress against our key objectives:
- Making homes more energy efficient, warm and comfortable. - Switching the heating and energy we use to a clean and green supply. - Creating a green estate with a thriving environment. - Engaging residents on the co-design of their estate. 

How are we calculating the carbon emissions of the estate exactly, so we can show beyond doubt that we are on track to become a net-zero carbon estate? Can we share this tracker with residents, and be transparent about the way it is calculated?

We're currently developing an approach to how we calculate the emissions of the estate so that we can accurately measure progress against our net-zero carbon goal. This will include looking in detail at the materials and equipment on the estate, and energy usage from boilers and in individual properties. 
Once we have decided an appropriate method of calculating emissions, we will share this and our tracker with any interested residents.

What are smart meters and how will they benefit us? 

Small meters are modern gas and electricity meters that have a range of intelligent functions. They come with and in-home display, so its possible to see how much energy you are using and how much it costs, which can help to avoid wasting energy and money. They can also communicate directly with energy suppliers, meaning that bills will be accurate, with no need for suppliers to visit homes to read meters - though residents get a say over how their information is shared. 

We're currently trialling both Nest and Switches smart meters on the estate. These smart meters can also learn from residnets' heating preferences and adjust temperature accordingly, which is estimated to save between 8.4% and 16.5% energy used for heating, which could help reduce both emissions and costs. 

More information can be found on the government website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/smart-meters-how-they-work