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Bringing customers with us on our net zero journey

Matt Roberts

Written by Matt Roberts, Marketing and Communications Team

If we are going to achieve our sustainability plan and make our homes energy efficient and fit for the future, we need to work with customers and empower our communities.

Carbon capture. Energy efficiency. Heat pumps and retrofitting. In our strive to become more environmentally friendly, the world of housing has suddenly opened up to a whole new lexicon of terms. It can be confusing.

Our journey to net zero is one we want to take together. We know our customers are as committed to protecting our climate as we are. We have seen that in our net-zero pilot projects at Summer Hill and Allerdale in Cumbria.

Through exhaustive engagement activity with our customers, we have been able to bring everyone along on the green journey which is underway in their communities.

We hosted open days where customers were taken round two specially designed ‘sustainability show homes’, with opportunities for them to learn more about the technology and materials which Home Group plans to use to future proof their homes.

This has really helped customers understand some of the phrases that up until now have been shrouded in mystery. Expressions like ground or air source heat pumps, Solar PV or retrofitting are now more familiar.

But showcases, and community tea and biscuits doesn’t work for everyone. So we wanted to make sure that everyone had access to information and any questions they had could be answered.

We wrote letters to customers with information and FAQs, and also offered one-to-ones. These were just some of the many steps taken to ensure that every customer had the opportunity to engage.

Similarly, after the open house sessions, our colleagues hit the streets and visited local customers at home, checking in and having conversations to answer any questions they might have had.

Our engagement with customers at Summer Hill and Allerdale can’t just be an overnight thing. That is why the ‘sustainability show homes’ will remain open for six months. The homes will have storyboards explaining the next-zero journey for the house, the estates and Home Group. We want them to become hubs of learning for the community, with suppliers, councillors, residents and locals coming together and being inspired to drive sustainability efforts.

Our work in Cumbria included:

  • Adding heat pumps for those homes not connected to the gas network – providing cost savings for occupants
  • Solar panels were installed, with batteries to store excess generated power
  • We insulated external walls, doors and windows
  • New ventilation systems were installed

Those new ventilation strategies were key. We did not want to see the improved insulation lead to increased cases of damp, and our work here helps mitigate that risk.

Think of our work at Summer Hill and Allerdale like wrapping up our buildings in a great big tea cosy. Improving the ventilation was our way to ensure it can still breathe underneath!

But for our many customers not living in or around Summer Hill or Allerdale, why should this matter to them?

Well, Home Group’s commitment to sustainable design, improving inefficient properties and involving the local community stretches far beyond individual projects. What we learn from Summer Hill and Allerdale will help with our sustainability plan for all our customers’ homes.

And what we learn from customers through this engagement is as equally important as what we learn from the technology, if we are going to achieve our net-zero ambitions.

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