With five years of reductions to social rents, the Government’s extended Right to Buy scheme, reforms to welfare, and an expectation of many more new-build homes, these are challenging times for social housing providers.

Thus, the need exists for a more radical form of asset management in a bid to somehow generate more for less. This isn’t about planned maintenance programmes and replacing kitchens every 25 years – it’s about taking a more holistic look at properties and making decisions that will boost value – which could be measured in financial and social terms – of the portfolio.

The Chartered Institute of Housing has been working on this concept of asset management for social year housing for some time, bringing together a handful of housing associations and supporting organisations to define what the approach should entail. The result of their working group was a report, Working Together to Redefine Asset Management, published in November 2015.

In a section devoted to programmes and procurement, the report calls on the sector to be more innovative about life cycle considerations. This is an approach that Eurocell whole-heartedly endorses. It’s important to look not only at initial cost but at cost in use: what maintenance will be required over a building element’s lifetime and how will that impact on the operational cost for the landlord and comfort of the homeowner.

In this context, energy efficiency is of major importance too. Not just because the environment is of particular interest: building managers and tenants are deeply focussed on running costs. Elements, such as windows, also must require little, if, any maintenance and they must offer high levels of energy efficiency.

Obviously, in this context, PVC-U window systems are a cost-effective and high-performing systems win for specifiers. PVC-U windows have been given a minimum reference service life (RSL) of 35 years by the BRE, with minimal maintenance during this period. First generation PVC-U windows – now 50 years old – are still performing strongly well beyond this. Glazing units, the most expensive part of a window, regardless of material, will fail long before the frame.

While PVC-U windows aren’t maintenance free – they will still need to be cleaned, and hardware and other items looked after – they are incredibly low maintenance and the cost-in-use burden is significantly less than other materials. Consisting of 50% post-consumer recycled PVC-U as standard, the Eurocell range of doors and windows demonstrates sustainable use of materials and a smaller carbon footprint than products made or recycled outside of the UK. The company’s extrusion technology layers recycled and ‘virgin’ material simultaneously, so the recycled material is concentrated in the core of the profiles where it cannot be seen once installed.

Coming with a 12-year guarantee (white profiles only), Eurocell systems come in a wide range solid and woodgrain-effect colours, all available with white internal finishes.

Intelligent asset management has proven its worth in the infrastructure sector, and among multinational companies with large property portfolios. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t help social housing providers now in an hour of need.