A social housing client recently asked us a great question. They were aware that their new build department had lots of excellent data on the sustainability of their new homes. They were also aware that it would be useful to transfer that data over to asset management. Their query was about which bits of data would be the most useful to transfer, so that their asset management colleagues could manage their stock to become truly sustainable. Here are our thoughts:
Before we list the data suggestions, we should say that, in our experience, hardly any asset management software has all the fields necessary to completely capture the data to manage stock to a sustainable level. We do hope that comes soon. For now, your asset manager may be able to get the software providers to add the database fields so the following data can be captured.
Energy – definitely the EPC/SAP rating. Although the SAP rating isn’t needed for building regulations, it is needed for everything else! In addition, SAP assessments come with an XML file that contains detailed data that can be used by third party software providers to help asset management more accurately update SAP ratings if they make upgrades later on, e.g. install solar PV. Hopefully upgrades shouldn’t be necessary because the home is built net zero ready and energy efficient already 😊.
Water – presence (or not) of water meters, low volume bath, low-ish flow shower (<8ltrs/min), low flush toilets. You may not be installing rain water harvesting or grey water recycling systems, but if you do, consider how this data can be stored on databases. There are new water efficiency targets emerging: https://shiftenvironment.co.uk/news/water-efficiency-targets-for-uk-housing/.
Flood risk – flood risk level from rivers, sea and surface water , the date the assessment was made (we think assessments should be done every 3 years to stay up to date with latest flood risk modelling and changes in the surrounding areas), and if there are any actions that a resident should take in the event of a flood alert, e.g. put air brick covers in. Note that the flood risk map may be slightly different than the flood risk maps you use for planning/development. For drainage in a scheme, note who is the authority responsible for maintaining that drain. For an idea of how good the long term flood risk is, here is something we found out recently: https://shiftenvironment.co.uk/news/how-good-are-flood-risk-assessments/.
Overheating risk – Part O of building regulations was brought in to tackle overheating. Note the results of any dynamic simulation modelling that shows the homes are at low risk now and into the future. Certainly share if the home is a single aspect or not. Ideally define if the surrounding area is likely to be an Urban Heat Island – no strict definitions at the moment, but we are working with a dwelling density and we recommend updating this at least every 3 years.
Waste – communicate if there are internal recycling bins.
Transport – communicate if there is cycle storage or not and if there is an EV charger, especially if there is a drive or parking provided for a home – these look likely features for the UK net zero transport plan.
Biodiversity – the area of land per UPRN (not just scheme area) and ideally split into area and vegetation types if you can guarantee these will actually be planted and maintained. It is likely you will need this data for Biodiversity Net Gain calculations soon anyway. And once asset managers know this data, they too can continually assess the levels of biodiversity in your stock.
From a development point of view, there are other things you can do that improve sustainability, but aren’t necessarily data to hand over to asset managers. These are:
- Engage with your supply chain to get them to report on their own environmental performance – you can use SHIFT’s supply chain survey for engagement
- Post-Occupancy Evaluation (POE) – a lot can happen between drawings leaving the architect and people living in the home, so it’s ideal to check you are getting what you paid for with POE. That said, you may wish to set up an internal scheme where asset managers check the sustainability of assets before they are accepted into asset management. Here’s an example of what can go horribly wrong: https://shiftenvironment.co.uk/news/a-horror-story-poor-quality-in-new-builds/.
Please be in touch if you need help organising your data to produce excellent environmental reports.