Josh Davis, Chirpy Heat
Being from Greater Manchester myself, the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) conference holds a special place close to my heart and the city is always buzzing throughout its duration with this year feeling like a major step up in terms of attendees. During Housing 2023 we saw key topics such as governance, changing and re-setting business plans, the importance of social care, health and housing integration and the cost-of-living crisis covered and discussed. Some new themes also emerging around the role of data for the sector – it’s going to play a critical role in years to come and is a subject in line with our vision and the way that we do things at Chirpy Heat.
This year also saw the introduction of the tenant and resident engagement stage, something that we believe will be crucial in the coming years, ensuring tenants have a voice and have the potential to influence future decision making. When it comes to heat networks, where residents don’t have the option to change provider if they are receiving poor service, there is often the feeling that things are happening to the residents, rather than happening with or for them. If heat networks are to be a success and we are to achieve net zero while maintaining good customer service, we all need to ensure everyone has a voice and are taken on that journey together.
From Chirpy Heat, myself, Nicholas Doyle, Will Routh, Charlotte Button and Natalia Riga all attended the conference and during our time, we caught up with familiar faces and made new connections. On Tuesday evening, we attended the Unlock Net Zero awards where from +100 applicants, Chirpy Heat were shortlisted for the ‘Supply Chain Partner of the Year’ award. Although we were runners up, we were thrilled to be shortlisted amongst some fantastic projects. The passion and drive towards a net zero future, whilst providing warm, safe housing was evident throughout the night.
Wednesday morning kicked off with the Uniti Heat launch breakfast, co-hosted by Nicholas Doyle and Alistair Moore. Uniti’s mission is to make heat networks the best they can be – for clients, for developments and for customers. The aim is to ensure that heat networks deliver on their promise of providing affordable, low cost and reliable heating. This includes complete end-to-end support from scheme inception and beyond hand over. In the afternoon, we partnered up with Vital Energi to co-host a tour of the Tower of Light, also known as The Civic Quarter heat network, which is right by the conference. The Tower of Light uses low carbon power generated in an energy centre located underneath the railway arches by Manchester Central and it supplies energy to Manchester Central, Bridgewater Hall, Central Library, Heron House, Manchester Art Gallery and Manchester Town Hall. The system also has the capacity to connect to wider buildings and homes in the future.
So a really great conference this year – and we are already setting out our plans for next year – with full heat network regulation looming in 2024, it looks like it’s going to be even bigger and even better. See you all there next year!