Sustainability in Older People's Housing

Dale Potts
The Extra Care sector could lead the way on sustainable home provision. Older residents stand to benefit as they typically spend more time at home and more money on lighting, heating and cooling.

As demographics change, older people's accommodation needs will present critical challenges to policy makers, planners, and those involved in housing provision. All stakeholders are under pressure to meet the increasing demand for Extra Care housing, which balances independent living with support when needed.

The Extra Care sector could also lead the way on sustainable home provision. The 2009 Housing our Ageing Population Panel for Innovation (HAPPI) report, following research throughout Europe, wrote:

"As we get older, we are less able to control our own body temperature and get too hot or too cold more easily. Because we spend more time at home, we spend more money on lighting, heating and cooling, unless our homes are well designed it is perhaps unexpected to find that older person's housing could lead the way in terms of sustainable environmental design, but it makes sense that it should".

Faithful+Gould has produced the Department of Health technical brief  Extra Care Housing: Designing, assessing and delivering sustainable homes.  The report is due for publication on the Housing Learning and Improvement Network website in Spring 2010.

The factsheet summarises current policy on the application of BREEAM Multi Residential (MR) and the Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH) where we propose:

  • A structured design approach
  • Scheme-specific renewable energy reporting
  • Energy reporting highlights, energy grants and ‘costs in use', and how these can be offset by revenue available from incoming Feed-in Tariffs

The factsheet shows how this best practice will lead to a model ‘assisted living' zero carbon community.

Proposed legislation milestone targets related to the 2006 Building Regulations (currently out for consultation as part of the CLG document: Sustainable New Homes - The Road to Zero Carbon), aim to build on the forthcoming October 2010 Part L requirement of a 25% mandatory improvement in carbon emissions (CSH Level 3). The goal is to increase this to 44% (CSH 4) by 2013 reaching the ‘zero carbon' or ‘carbon neutral' home by 2016 (CSH 6).

With this target in mind, the Zero Carbon Hub task group was set up in 2009 to advise on the feasibility of delivering ‘minimum energy efficiency for zero carbon dwellings'. The task group concluded that the above minimum energy efficiency standards for apartments can be achieved using a wide variety of products and techniques currently available. Faithful+Gould guides clients through a professional appraisal and delivery process, to assist in securing public sector grants and apply best practice in this increasingly competitive sector.