Zero-Carbon Footprint in Social Housing: Towards a hopeful tomorrow

Zero-Carbon Footprint in Social Housing

Suresh Lal, Partner of our Housing Practice, is hopeful that the future of Social Housing is predominantly green. This month, he looks at the current status of zero-carbon footprint in the Housing sector, and explains what trends we are seeing as teams increase their zero-carbon footprint moving forward

In recent years, we have seen the demand for green energy solutions rise across the public and private sector, and the urgent need to decrease the carbon footprint is a prominent point on the agenda of all Housing Associations. A vast amount of research and investment has gone into planning and starting to build the infrastructure needed to supply the UK with sustainable energy alternatives, such as Green Hydrogen, however, while these developments are heading in the right direction most sectors will still need the support of the right talent to drive these initiatives forward within their organisation and ensure that zero-carbon targets are being met.

Teams across the UK are well into the conversation about what initiatives, technologies and resources they should invest in to be prepared for being zero carbon ready by 2025. What we are seeing is that some options they invest in (such as electric boilers) could eventually lead to higher running costs, as gas is currently around four times cheaper than electricity. This raises the question whether Housing Associations will inadvertently add to fuel bills and potentially fuel poverty, but would this be negated by running the boiler less often? We still need some data to show the outcome, and analysis such as this recent research article conducted by consultancy Savills will surely add to our understanding.

We have just started the discussion around a potential ‘Green Rent’, although much needs to be done to understand how this works in practice. Our role is to support teams on this journey and that support may very well come from other arenas. For example, we are talking to our teams in the Utilities and Energy space, to get a better understanding of emerging technology equipment in the green energy world. As a result of this cross-sector approach, we can bring the best talent from those sectors across to support our thinking, deliver our operational changes and handle any projects we may need to move quickly on.

The Importance of Zero-Carbon Footprints in Social Housing

It’s important to understand the ‘why’ behind any of our long term plans and ambitions. Its not enough to say it is down to legislation and ‘because we have to’. Decarbonisation has an integral synergy with Social Housing and while not exhaustive, some of the key themes we are seeing from teams can be shown below.


Providing quality affordable housing lies at the heart of helping those in need of shelter and accommodation and our reason for being in existence. The impact of green energy, in general, has a knock-on effect on numerous levels. Homes and properties running on renewable and sustainable energy are cheaper to run in the long-term, meaning even more affordability in a time when home ownerships is becoming out of reach for an entire generation.


As mentioned briefly in the introduction, we are seeing an increasing number of businesses and organisations moving towards sustainable energy sources across a variety of sectors. Many are now aiming to remove their carbon footprint entirely by a set deadline. To provide green energy in Social Housing, we can utilise our considerable financial base as a safe investment to lead the move towards and the narrative around green credentials. We have seen a trend of candidates actively wanting roles in our sector, as we are seen as commercial thinkers with social hearts. It marries well with the current sentiment of many looking for a new place to invest their own time and energy and for the right cause. 


We are already well underway with the plans and in some cases the pilots of schemes with new low energy options. Air Pump heat sources and Ground Heat options are being tested and may very well come into a scheme near you soon. All of these on the ground (literally!) realities need planning and all Executives & Boards will be fully attuned to thinking about the challenges that lay ahead. Bearing in mind, Zero-Carbon investment comes at a time when we also need to think about building / fire safety, the Customer Journey, and digital offerings, and not to mention the funding for new properties we still need to build. There is no shortage of complexity to the corporate strategy design of the future.

Ultimately, the move to decarbonisation across the Housing sector is about ensuring that generations to come have a healthy planet, living space and natural environment to enjoy. This is non-negotiable.  

Hiring the right interim talent to drive forward decarbonisation

As one of the largest providers of Interim Recruitment, Odgers Interim operate across a vast number of sectors. Our small and interpersonal team, however, allows us to be extremely well connected with each other, enabling each and everyone of us to draw on each other’s knowledge of our sectors, as well as learn from each other in an interdisciplinary manner. By hiring an interim executive to drive forward their green energy policies, our clients not only get the most experienced consultant in their field, but they will ultimately benefit from the abundance of knowledge exchange that is happening within Odgers Interim on a daily basis. An experienced and talented interim can be taught about the needs and requirements of Social Housing, yet it is much harder to teach someone the complexity of decarbonisation and green energy solutions. By drawing on our extensive expertise and candidate base, we can provide you with the right talent to ensure your green energy needs are met.

Hopefully this will lead to the ensuring the very best support is on offer, at all times.

If you would like to discuss any of the points raised in this article, or get more information about this topic, please contact Suresh Lal.


Olu at 31/05/2021 19:17 said:

Hi Suresh
Hope you’re doing well
It’s been a long while
I am working on our first ESG report publication and found this quite helpful and would love to discuss further


Suresh Lal at 02/06/2021 09:09 said:

Hi Olu,
Great to hear from you and lets organise a time to speak in more depth.
Email me at the work address ( and we can find a convenient time in the diaries to catch up.
Hope all is well in the meantime and look forward to speaking to you shortly

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