‘Sustainable Homes & Buildings Coalition’ launches new report

‘Sustainable Homes & Buildings Coalition’ launches new report

A new report by the Sustainable Homes & Buildings Coalition has called on Government and industry to work together to move energy efficiency “from pilot to profitable, from difficult to desirable and from piecemeal to prominent” if the UK is to succeed in decarbonising its 29 million homes.

Comprising NatWest, Worcester Bosch and British Gas, with support from Citizen’s Advice, the Sustainable Homes and Buildings Coalition’s ‘Home is Where the Heat is – Progress Report’ is described as “shedding much needed light” on the importance of customer-centric approaches to the home retrofitting industry, by showcasing the real-life experiences of nine households from Tyne & Wear to Pontypool.

Focusing on the first three parts of a five-phase process, the Coalition provides “an honest appraisal” of some of the stumbling blocks and learnings experienced as they accompany the nine households on a journey to energy efficiency. Some of the learnings “are concerning but well known”, which the report notes as being “especially around the clunkiness of the customer journey, the opacity of funding options and supply chain shortages”.

It argues that other insights, especially on “Energy Performance Certificates and their bias towards certain solutions like Solar PV rather than newer technologies, and the benefits of digitising them, need urgent action now”. Interestingly, the report indicates that EPCs are an increasingly important factor when buying a home, with EPC ratings now seen as more desirable than access to public transport, according to the Q3 edition of NatWest’s Greener Homes Attitude Tracker.

The report also emphasises the strong and growing public support for energy efficiency – highlighting that 68% of homeowners are planning to make energy efficiency improvements to their home in the next decade. Additionally, it discusses the industry supply chain, and what can be done to unlock the role of SMEs to fully contribute to this strategic agenda.

It also argues that “delivering a home retrofit every minute until 2050 will not happen by magic”. Accordingly, with households now massively in favour of energy efficiency, increased industry momentum to drive this national agenda forward, and SMEs standing to gain the most from the growth opportunity it presents, the Coalition makes five policy recommendations to unlock the delivery of energy efficiency this decade:

1: A public information campaign to educate the public on energy efficiency measures

2: Long-term investment signals to the market, including through local area energy planning

3: EPC reform to ensure all homes sold by 2033 are rated EPC C and above, while digitising and regularly updating EPCs to make them more useful

4: The launch of a ‘Help for Energy Efficiency Scheme’ allowing banks to provide low interest loans to households to upgrade their properties

5: The launch of an ‘Energy Saving Stamp Duty Rebate’ leveraging the trigger point of a house sale for the new owner to have a two-year window to invest in energy efficiency and be able to claim it back against its stamp duty

In support of the recommendations, British Gas unveils plan to deliver heat pumps under £5,000 whilst NatWest Group has earmarked £10 billion for green mortgages and Worcester Bosch has pledged to ramp up training course places to support delivery by the industry.

Alison Rose, NatWest Group Chief Executive, said: “Supporting households up and down the country to act on energy efficiency is essential, not just in our transition to net zero, but also to help keep energy costs down for the long-term. The Coalition is showing what can be done to deliver greener, warmer and more comfortable homes for British households in a people-centric manner.

“But, we can’t shy away from the fact that delivering energy efficiency is hard work. That is why, as well as carving out £10 billion to roll out green mortgages, we are supporting SMEs to play their part in the tremendous growth opportunity that energy efficiency represents and calling on Government and Industry to work together to kickstart a decade of delivery. I look forward to the spring Outcomes Report to see the positive impact that such interventions can have for families from Pontypool to Coulsdon.”

Carl Arntzen, CEO of Worcester Bosch, continued: “As a Coalition we are working together to drive change and guide the UK’s move to net zero. This latest report shares the lessons we are learning and shines a light on the amount of work and considerations required to decarbonise home heating and ensure the country reaches its net zero 2050 targets.

“We hope that our recommendations are listened to and acted upon by Government and we of course remain committed and available to support the nation’s drive for climate action.”

Andrew Middleton, Managing Director, Net Zero Ventures of British Gas, added: “Heat pumps are an essential part of the UK’s journey towards a decarbonised future. Our new offer is testament to our commitment to helping more customers lower their carbon emissions in the home. Installing a heat pump is one of the single best things households can do today to lower their carbon footprint. While specifications will differ to suit a variety of homes, it’s important we act now to start customers on this journey. That’s why we’ve committed to training 3,500 apprentices over the next decade, many of whom will gain specialist green skills to support with the demand that’s coming.”

Visit www.worcester-bosch.co.uk/home-is-where-the-heat-is to view the latest report. The Coalition has also announced it will be publishing an Outcomes Report in the Spring of 2023 to report back on the results of the nine retrofit pilots.

In July 2021, NatWest, Worcester Bosch, and British Gas, with support from Citizen’s Advice, formed the Sustainable Homes and Buildings Coalition. The Coalition’s core purpose is to influence policy makers and stakeholders to change their approach to energy efficiency. Instead of top-down governmental programmes, strategies and schemes, the Coalition has endeavoured to show that “by putting customers at the heart of the process, and through empowerment and guidance, real progress in decarbonising the UK’s built environment can be made.”

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