Could the cost of living crisis be a catalyst for environmental change?

Director at Allsop Letting and Management explores whether the cost of living crisis could be a catalyst for change via further environmental endeavours.

The Keel in Liverpool which provides environmental initiatives - Allsop | BTR News
The Keel in Liverpool.

As the cost of living crisis continues to ravage the UK economy, with inflation hitting a 40-year-high at 9.1% last month, consumers are becoming increasingly budget conscious. There is no universal solution that would magically make us all immune to rising costs, but some industries, like Build to Rent, are able and willing to go the extra mile to ease the financial burden faced by thousands of UK households. So could this be the catalyst for further environmental endeavours?

By Matt Smith, Director of Asset Management, Allsop Letting and Management

Turning to renewable energy

Utility bills are a major point of concern for the UK population. Earlier this year, Ofgem’s Chief Executive said a typical household would face an annual increase of £800 from October, which may end up being at the lower end of what actually happens. The good news is that some of these costs can be reduced by incorporating renewables into the energy mix.

The Keel in Liverpool, managed by Allsop, is an excellent example of this. The feedback received from its residents indicated appetite for a greater number of environmentally focused initiatives as well as concerns about rising fuel costs, to which Allsop has offered a timely solution.

After a thorough assessment of the building and the local area, the Allsop Letting and Management team decided to replace gas with water as the main source of energy for our district heating system, taking advantage of the amazing dock the building straddles. Such infrastructure changes are not always feasible and often require significant investment as well as time. However, given the current economic climate and our customers’ growing awareness of their own and their landlord’s environmental footprint, it has proven to be the right thing to do.

Enabling sustainable choices

After running a resident survey at Vox, our award-winning scheme in Manchester, we learned that 76% of residents would like the building management team to take an active role in driving environmental initiatives. Having previously facilitated eco-focused community activities such as litter picking, the Allsop team decided to go a step further by providing Vox with an on-site electric car, for residents’ use only. By doing that, we have not only introduced a sustainable mode of transport which is better for the environment, but also benefitted our customers by insulating them from rising fuel and general car ownership costs.

Working with local tradespeople

Because of the inflationary pressures, the Build to Rent sector has seen an increase in operating costs, and as a result, there’s a bigger focus on carrying out any repair works quickly and efficiently. As a result, we’ve been working more closely with accredited local suppliers.

That allows us to reduce the carbon footprint required for visits, as well as ensuring the maintenance teams we rely on are familiar with our buildings and have the right parts if something needs urgent attention. In return, we receive more attractive rates and deliver a faster service to our customers, as well as supporting the local economy.  

The use of smart tech across our single-family sites has also been useful in helping us reduce the environmental impact associated with property management. Thanks to the use of technology, we are now able to provide contractors with remote access to our buildings, removing the need for additional visits to collect keys.

One less visit means less carbon created through traffic and less time, and therefore money, spent on any given job.

Rising costs does not mean lower standards

The current economic situation is an opportunity to capitalise on the comparative advantages Build to Rent and single-family housing can offer as a sector. We are uniquely placed to invest in further environmental endeavours which can provide a clear and quantifiable advantage to occupiers, investors and local communities and hopefully, help raise housing standards across the country over time.