Karbon Homes Durham

Following his involvement in our Collaborating to De-Carbonise Developments Webinar we’ve been speaking to Karbon Home’s Chief Executive Paul Fiddaman…

Q. You provide a mixture of socially rented, specialist, shared ownership and market rented homes, and even market sale homes, how does this variety of tenures help maximise the social impact of your housing?

The housing crisis affecting the UK comes in many forms. It is not just about a shortage of homes, it’s about a shortage of the right type of homes in the right places – and about a crisis of affordability, and not just for those on the lowest incomes. So we need to have a sophisticated approach which recognises that different households, in different communities, will want a variety of different homes, and ways to own or rent those homes. By providing this variety, we broaden the range of customers we are able to support, and help to create and sustain balanced communities that can thrive and prosper.

Q. Karbon Homes describes itself as a ‘profit for a purpose’ model, where all profits are reinvested towards future development or improvements to existing properties, how does this model help you best serve your communities?

As a profit-for-a-purpose business, we invest any surplus we generate into improving our properties and communities, building new homes and delivering services which provide sustainable outcomes for our customers and communities. We’re currently building more new homes than we ever have done while incorporating renewable technologies such as air source heat pumps, solar pv panels and electric vehicle charging points. We’re committed to  significant investment programmes for our existing homes, delivered year on year, which  include installing a range of renewable technologies. These programmes help deliver  a continual rise in our average stock SAP score while also seeing a decrease in energy demand for our customers, resulting in lower fuel bills and a lower carbon footprint across our stock.

Q. You recently mandated that zero carbon properties would be at the forefront of Karbon Homes’ agenda, what was the trigger for Karbon Homes to increase its focus on zero carbon housing?

Social housing contributes a significant proportion of the UK’s total carbon emissions so we feel that as one of the North’s largest registered providers it is our responsibility to do our part in creating sustainable homes and communities for our customers and future generations. As well as our commitment to providing high quality homes, we want our homes to be affordable, which is why our increased focus on zero carbon housing will increase the energy efficiency of our homes while reducing fuel bills for our customers.

The release of the government’s clean growth strategy sets out some challenging targets for housing providers. We have analysed the impact net zero 2050 will have on our stock and initial indications suggest that we will need to invest an average of £19k per property to achieve net zero targets. Whilst this is a significant commitment for us, it is entirely in keeping with our mission to provide high quality homes that are energy efficient and help to reduce fuel poverty.

Q. How have you been making use of collaboration with other institutions to decarbonise your new developments and are you still seeking any further partnerships on this?

We continue to build relationships with external partners across the sector to support our decarbonisation agenda. We have strong relationships with various national constructors and manufacturers of materials and products, as well as being part of a number of collaborative working groups within the sector. The net zero agenda is one that affects everyone in the industry therefore we feel that a joint collaborative approach of learning and sharing of ideas is pivotal for us to be successful in achieving future efficiency standards.

I am chairing the decarbonisation workstream of the North East of England Climate Coalition, which is a cross-sector collaboration aimed at turning the North East into England’s greenest region. This should enable us to pool our spend and generate the critical mass that will bring research and development investment to the region. This in turn will help to drive innovation and bring down cost in this rapidly evolving area.

Q. What sites has Karbon Homes chosen for your upcoming Zero Carbon projects?

We have a forward development pipeline of around 3,000 homes over the next 5 years and we are already planning for that programme to be delivered to fabric first standards that will facilitate our transition to net zero carbon in all new homes.

Notably, we are working with the Coal Authority on how we can use hot subterranean mine water to power a district heating system at our proposed development at Seaham Garden Village