As social housing organisations in Scotland navigate their way through this new framework, I believe there are some central factors to focus on:
Educate your staff
PAS 2035 is the main document in a new standards framework introduced following the Each Home Counts review which began in 2015. Since then several pieces of legislation have been improved, including PAS 2030 which enhanced the standards for installing energy efficiency measures.
PAS 2035 should be used in conjunction with PAS 2030 and because this whole framework is complex, housing providers must understand it fully to avoid unexpected problems.
There are not-for-profit organisations operating in different regions of Scotland that can provide independent information, steering social housing staff through new requirements. These include the Energy Agency, the Wise Group, Changeworks and SCARF.
Reach out before tendering
It’s vital to get an understanding of capacity amongst retrofit suppliers before you procure. Firms and consultants in the energy efficiency market are telling me that pressure has never been greater. That’s because it’s not just purely ECO-funded projects that have to meet PAS 2035. On a mixed tenure site, where a council is upgrading private homes but also their own public sector properties, there is an expectation that they will all be improved to the same standard.
To cope with increasing demand within the supply chain, my advice to housing organisations is communicate early and often with suppliers. Hold meet-the-buyer workshops and speak to a wide range of industry professionals to get a feel for availability and capability before you make a tender live.
There’s a particular problem with the availability of the architects and architect technicians needed for PAS 2035. Don’t get caught short – do your homework well before you need to deliver the works.
Develop internal and external expertise
This new framework aims to put an end to companies and contractors passing the buck when it comes to failures. Organisations delivering ECO projects must ensure there is a Retrofit Assessor, Co-ordinator, Designer and Advisor in place – each with clear responsibilities and liabilities.
As I mentioned earlier, there are a limited number of qualified people to take on these roles so housing providers must think carefully about how to tackle this skills shortage. Developing a mix of in-house technical knowledge and outsourced resource is wise. Take a blended approach of recruiting new employees, training existing staff and nurturing partnerships with retrofit contractors.
Despite the extra demands brought by PAS 2035, it will help the sector to create a net zero roadmap, something that is desperately needed. The Climate Change Act 2019 commits Scotland to net-zero emissions of all greenhouse gases by 2045. With homes and buildings in Scotland responsible for around 20% of those emissions, social landlords must make significant progress, fast.
Chris McGinn is commercial manager at PfH Scotland.
To find out how PfH Scotland can help with this, visit our EESSH 2 page
Stirling, FK9 4TU
0800 031 5405