A LEADING innovation centre has teamed up with the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) in a partnership that aims to use creative new thinking to improve the country’s social housing stock.

Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) and the SFHA says innovation will help increase the affordability, sustainability, quality and supply of such housing.

Housing associations are the main providers of new build social and affordable housing in Scotland and have some of the most energy efficient housing in the country.

However, they face various challenges including increasing the supply of new-build affordable housing against a backdrop of a skills shortage in construction, addressing fuel poverty, meeting new fire safety standards and providing housing that is suitable for an ageing population.

The SFHA and CSIC believe their partnership will enable housing associations to address these challenges by learning from CSIC’s successful track record in innovation, while ensuring that the work of the innovation centre will respond to the needs and ambitions of housing associations.

The partnership, which will create a strategic relationship between the two organisations and deliver a supporting programme of activities, will provide tangible benefits for SFHA’s members.

It will include support for associations to use building information management (BIM) to streamline the maintenance and asset management of existing homes and joint work to investigate the potential benefits of offsite construction to the sector.

Co-designing of solutions will also help to increase supply and the creation of a “Housing Innovation Community” – a leadership and knowledge-sharing hub for the housing sector – will be focused on how emerging technologies can be utilised, along with digital transformation and future housing types.

Rohan Bush, CSIC’s head of public partnerships and future workforce, said: “When I think about the future, I imagine a Scotland where the people responsible for the future of housing and the people who actually build the houses collaborate and innovate together.

“In this vision, new build social housing is even more energy efficient, and fuel bills are low due to the high quality and affordability of low carbon and sustainable building methods. Waste is segregated using smart sensor technology and materials are delivered at the right time to avoid damages and defects.”

SFHA chief executive officer, Sally Thomas, added: “A key element of the partnership is the Home of the Future Innovation and Future Thinking programme, which is bringing the housing and construction sectors, and others, together to create a vision of future living.”