The hosting of COP26 in Glasgow this year shines a spotlight on the UK in relation to sustainability performance, applying more pressure on organisations to demonstrate their green credentials and to encourage the development and usage of sustainable technologies in the race to net zero.

One sector in particular that is leading the charge on decarbonisation is the affordable housing sector, but barriers exist and challenges endure. Sustainability-linked loans are in their infancy and the prevalence of ESG frameworks in social housing organisations is patchy. A lack of resource to deliver sustainability measures at the small-to-medium end of the market means take-up of green finance is not straightforward, and the lack of specific decarbonisation metrics makes lending criteria and measurement an ongoing problem. And there has also been the small matter of a global pandemic that has hindered progress.

The pursuit of lower carbon housing is nothing new though, with sector stakeholders having focused on the issue for a number of years already. As a result, the sector has established a level of knowledge on green initiatives and technologies but there is a recognition that it now needs to kick on and accelerate the pace of learning and implementation. Organisations of all types need to work together to share views and, with support of government, ride the wave of COP26 and the wider sustainability agenda to position affordable living at the cutting edge of positive change.

Shoosmiths recently hosted a roundtable debate with various stakeholders to discuss these issues and more. The participants were:

  • Marcos Navarro, Director & Sustainability Lead – NatWest
  • Julie Watson, Head of Capital Investment – Kingdom Housing Association
  • Allan Briggs, Director - Valuation Advisory – Affordable Housing - JLL
  • Gill Henry, Operations Director – Ecosystems Technologies
  • Fiona Cameron, Banking Partner – Shoosmiths
  • Chair: Sheelagh Cooley, Real Estate Partner – Shoosmiths

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