Solar PV proves to be a winner with housing associations

Photovoltaic (PV) technology is the most popular sustainability solution among housing associations according to a new report, which found that around three quarters say they would use PV products again in the future.

According to the study from the NHBC Foundation – the research arm of the National House-Building Council (NHBC) – almost two thirds of housing associations surveyed said they had experience of at least one type of sustainable technology. Since 2006, the housing associations in the report had installed photovoltaics on more than 16,500 new homes, with 82% indicating that this was the main technology they used.

This is likely to continue as, based on their experiences, the most popular option for use again in the future is PV (75%).

According to the ‘Sustainable technologies – the experience of Housing Associations’ report, widespread experience of performance, maintenance and resident reaction indicates PV is considered easy to use and maintain – regarded as ‘fit and forget’. The product is easy to understand, needs little control and reduces energy costs significantly – by between a third and a half quoted in some cases.

It was also found that 81% claimed that residents had benefitted from reduced energy bills, with 43% saying that benefitting tenants and reducing their fuel poverty was one of the biggest drivers for installing the technology.

The report also investigated the spending habits of housing associations, and found that two thirds chose specific technology to install based on the up-front cost of installation, while maintenance costs were also high on the priority list.

With just one year to go before the Government’s 2016 zero carbon home target, the ‘Sustainable technologies – the experience of Housing Associations’ report is aimed at helping the wider house-building industry make better-informed choices on sustainable technology.

Neil Smith, head of research and innovation at NHBC, said: “Much progress has been made by the house-building industry to address environmental issues, particularly in relation to improving energy and water efficiency.

“The social housing sector has led the way in the use of sustainable technologies.  Because of their ownership and management of significant portfolios of high-Code-level sustainable homes, housing associations have been in a position to gain experience of the installation, performance and resident satisfaction with the various technologies.

“This research is aimed at helping the wider house-building industry and others to make better-informed choices.  This report identifies technologies that have worked well, those that have given rise to concerns and the nature of those concerns.”

To read Sustainable technologies – the experience of Housing Associations in full, click here

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