The UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence, based at the Univesity of Glasgow, has been awarded around £250,000 by the Scottish Funding Council’s Climate Emergency Collaboration Challenge for a new sustainable housing project in Govanhill, announced on Thursday 5 March by Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation, Ivan McKee.

In partnership with Glasgow City Council, Southside Housing Association and other partners, CaCHE will lead a project which will retrofit a block of eight tenement flats in Govanhill. The project will allow for real-life testing of changes to specification for the refurbishment of properties to significantly reduce carbon emissions from the refurbished building, and an evaluation of how best to solve sustainability issues with Glasgow’s wider, iconic older tenement stock.

This new funding is the first outcome of the Memorandum of Understanding agreed between Glasgow City Council and the academic institutions in the city which commits universities and colleges to work with the Council to advance shared priorities and ensure academic expertise is able to inform public policy in Glasgow.

The Principal of the University of Glasgow, Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, said: “I’m delighted to see this example of the University and partners across Glasgow working together for the benefit of the City – and as we face the Climate Emergency, there has never been a more important time to ensure that we are able to marshal all of Glasgow’s expertise across a range of disciplines and sectors.

“As we approach COP26 later this year, Glasgow and Scotland have an incredible opportunity to demonstrate to the world how we are at the forefront of the fight against climate change – and this exciting new project is just one of the ways in which our University is leading the way in the city.

“Academics across the University are undertaking world-changing work tackling climate change with genuinely global impacts – but it’s equally important that we use our expertise to make our city more sustainable, and I am very pleased that this project will deliver a real impact in Govanhill.”

The Leader of Glasgow City Council, Councillor Susan Aitken, said: “Glasgow’s historic tenements give our city so much of its built identity. But they also present significant challenges in our collective efforts to reduce emissions.

“This project in Govanhill gives us an opportunity to crack that problem, creating a template which has the potential to make major inroads towards our net-zero target, create warmer homes, reduce fuel bills and retain our characteristic housing stock.

“It’s particularly pleasing that this is the first project to emerge from the Memorandum of Understanding the council recently agreed with our learning institutions.

“The challenges of our high-carbon legacy can only be overcome by pooling our expertise and commitment and this is an excellent and practical example of ‘town and gown’ delivering for our citizens.”

Speaking at today’s launch, Mr McKee said: “We are facing a global climate emergency and one of the major challenges is not only how we build in the future, but reducing carbon emissions from existing housing stock. As these projects demonstrate, innovation plays a key part in this and will help us reach our ambitious, world-leading target to reach net-zero by 2045. We continue to engage with public bodies, businesses, communities and individuals at every opportunity to address the challenge we all face.”

Academic lead for the project and Director of the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence, Professor Kenneth Gibb, added: “We are delighted to make a potentially big contribution to addressing the climate emergency in Scotland through SFC funding for this important project.

“Older housing is a key source of the carbon challenge, especially our pre-1919 tenements. This demonstration project allows us to both learn about this particular form of retrofit and to assess how best to scale up and provide replicable solutions across the range of Glasgow tenements.”

Photograph courtesy of John Tweedie (jtweedie1976), under Creative Commons CC-BY