Dec 19, 2022

Decarbonising Social Housing – the ALMO perspective

The National Federation of ALMOs (NFA) have recently published a report for the NFA Best Practice Series [1] addressing lessons from the ALMO sector regarding decarbonising social housing. This blog outlines areas where ALMOs differ from housing associations, but it could also offer useful insights that could help other social landlords.

NFA’s report highlights the commitment councils and their ALMOs have made to exploring as many ways as possible to fund decarbonisation within the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) and through external funding, as well as the risk that progress will slow without continuing commitment from the government.

Many ALMOs are supporting their parent councils to achieve their climate objectives. Crucially, as well as decarbonisation of homes, objectives also include the development of local transport plans, decarbonisation of fleets, incorporating biodiversity and flood resilience into property improvement projects and supporting carbon literacy programmes. Perhaps other social landlords should be doing these things too. As of December 2021, 70% of ALMOs had reviewed their asset management strategy’s response to climate change, with 63% having an investment programme to meet either the 2030/35 or 2050 target.

There are multiple ways in which ALMOs can help their parent councils to achieve their climate objectives, one example outlined within the NFA’s report is St Leger Homes of Doncaster (SLHD) who work with us here at SHIFT Environment. SLHD are part of its parent councils ‘Environmental and Sustainability Networking’ group which focuses on the climate change pledges in the borough. SLHD began working with SHIFT Environment to begin the process of measuring, monitoring and improving upon environmental criteria; this work provided SLHD with a baseline and allowed their progress towards the council’s climate change pledges to be monitored as well as their improvement noted.

An issue ALMOs face with regards to decarbonisation is that a substantial amount of the HRA funding has been directed to building safety resulting in less available funding for decarbonising stock; along with similar issues faced by housing associations regarding inflation as well as pressures through new-build programmes and maintaining Decent Homes standards.

The NFA report also describes the “Destination Zero” project run by Nottingham City Homes with Energiesprong UK. Destination Zero is funded by the Department of BEIS and aims to develop a deep retrofit approach which can be delivered incrementally by social housing providers through their asset management programmes

As an aside, Energisprong have an interesting funding model.  For deep retrofit in social housing to be financially feasible, landlords must generate an income that repays any borrowing.  Energiesprong UK offers a solution for this. An ALMO finances an Energiesprong retrofit by combining savings on energy cost reduction from tenants and on repairs and maintenance; the objective is for tenants have no fuel bills, but instead pay the ALMO via a ‘energy service plan’ [2].

This report from the NFA’s Best Practice Series highlights that challenges regarding decarbonisation of housing stock can differ between housing associations and ALMOs; it also offers solutions of how to overcome these issues via case studies such as working alongside Energiespong UK to create deep retrofit approach or working with SHIFT Environment to begin to measure and monitor environmental criteria.

If you would like to develop plans to tackle a wide range of environmental issues, please be in touch.



Photo by Marianne Rixhon (Pexels):


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