Facing unprecedented challenges

Lucy Dixon
Head of Content

It’s a challenging time for the elemental audience, for social landlords trying to keep fuel bills down for their residents and the building owners grappling with their own energy use, alongside all the usual work carried out to heat and power their buildings while cutting carbon and meeting efficiency goals.

And we’re supporting our audience to meet these challenges, with our autumn festivals of free-to-attend digital events, which kicked off last month with one series on decarbonising social housing and one on integrated EV charging solutions. Next week we’ll be tackling decarbonising healthcare buildings and then, later in the month, renewable energy.

The timing of the social housing sessions, coming just days before energy prices shot up again, meant that the speakers’ minds were firmly focused on alleviating fuel poverty, no matter what the topic of the day was. As Ian Preston, Director of Household Energy Services, Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE), said in our discussion on clean and affordable heat options:

We’re looking at many tenants being in severe fuel poverty. I think we need to be mindful of people’s situations and not give them advice that’s unrealistic. For the first time ever, we’ll be producing a fact sheet telling people how to keep themselves warm, rather than heat their home.

And Russell Smith, MD of Parity Projects, probably spoke for the entire country when he said – in the same session:

We need a national retrofit strategy.

Energy prices were also a consideration for the panellists on our EV charging infrastructure sessions – and integration with renewables. Our speakers discussed innovative ways to decarbonise transport by scaling up access to EV charge points, for all types of vehicles and building owners.

Lorna McAtear, Fleet Manager at National Grid, spoke about the challenges concerning commercial electric vehicles, such as vans and lorries:

Innovation is key, but there are some very simple things we can do that don’t need innovation to help scale commercial EVs rapidly. From my own experience, I drove an electric Transit from John O’Groats to Land’s End, and I made it, with only 13 charges. However, there were several car parks that I couldn’t get in to, because of height restrictions. Chargers are being put where cars can currently go, so that’s a challenge for other vehicles.

The key takeaway from all the sessions so far has been one of positivity at the combined effort going into the goal of reaching net zero – while acknowledging the unprecedented challenges faced by many – with wonderful examples of innovation, progress and lessons learnt shared with the elemental community.

To watch any of the sessions again – or sign up for the upcoming festivals, simply visit our Crowdcast channel.

Next week, we have Decarbonising Healthcare Buildings, running 11th to 13th October, then following that we have Renewable Energy from 18th to 21st October.

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