Greener Homes for the Future? Sustainability in PFI Local Authority Social Housing

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


The United Kingdom is committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 as part of a strategy to mitigate climate change. As housing is responsible for approximately 26 percent of all UK carbon emissions, housing carbon reduction is a key component in meeting this target. Local Authorities are faced with the problem of how to improve the quality of existing housing stock, provide additional social housing to meet increasing demand, and cutting emissions from both new and existing housing stock. The Private Finance Initiative (PFI) is being used as a means to deliver new and refurbished social housing using private, rather than public capital, and is expected to enable the delivery of sustainable, rented homes. However there have been concerns about the use of the PFI model to deliver public sector housing which meet sustainability goals. The overall aim of this thesis is to examine whether the UK’s Public Finance Initiative (PFI) can achieve the procurement of sustainable social housing. In order to address this aim, the study considers the technical and contextual issues that affect sustainability in PFI housing projects, focussing specifically on one such project in the North East of England. With regard to the technical issues, the research introduces a methodological tool that has been developed to assess the sustainability of PFI housing projects. It is envisioned that the tool will be useful for assessing the sustainability of other housing projects procured under a public private partnership arrangement. The contextual issues are examined by means of an ethnographic study carried out from within North Tyneside Councils PFI procurement team over a period of 2 years. The results of the study suggest that the PFI procurement model can be used to deliver sustainable housing, but is currently hampered by a lack of skills, knowledge and understanding. These problems are particularly acute at the project management and governance level within the procuring local authority. The study identifies the need for clear guidance on incorporating sustainability into the procurement of PFI projects. It also recommends the use of appropriate tools to assess the sustainability of plans and build capacity within local authority procurement teams.
Original languageEnglish
  • O'Brien, Geoff, Supervisor
  • O'Keefe, Phil, Supervisor
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2011


Dive into the research topics of 'Greener Homes for the Future? Sustainability in PFI Local Authority Social Housing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this