Our chair Derek Horrocks this week joined a roundtable at Tomorrow’s Net Zero in Birmingham, organised by Built Environment Networking. The national conference focuses on bringing the wider built environment together, focusing on the public-private collaboration needed to work towards tackling climate change and deliver cleaner and greener communities.
For the roundtable, he was joined by a wide range of speakers, covering housebuilders and housing associations through to engineers, quantity surveyors and investors. The key focus being on how we can accelerate the housing delivery across both new low carbon homes and a major programme of retrofitting across the country.
The scale of retrofitting required formed a large part of the discussion, with new-build, energy infrastructure and materials all working their way into the conversation. One speaker stated that we are not going to ‘new build our way out of the retrofit challenge’, and with more than 26 million homes requiring retrofit measures, it’s clear to see why this is the case.
That’s why the NHDG was formed. Our core mission is to collectively delivery the high-quality energy efficiency measures and low carbon technologies that are needed at scale across the UK’s housing stock.
Speaking after the session, Derek, said: “There were some really interesting takes from the roundtable on the various opportunities and challenges that lie before us when it comes to this particular topic. Everything from funding options and personal drivers of homeowners through to embodied carbon and imported versus UK-made materials entered the discussion, giving us all a lot of things to focus on moving forwards.
“The urgency and scale needed particularly for retrofit is clear, and it’s where our mission and vision really holds the power to unlock the critical point – action. Through our members and their capabilities, we will together create that action and momentum, creating better homes for all.”
Whether operating in the new build or decarbonisation and retrofit space, the shared view from all was the need to get it right. The mammoth task ahead is going to need a huge monetary investment, likely costing trillions. The positive to reflect on here is that there has been more government investment in decarbonisation in the past five years than ever before, with £6.6 billion of investment over the current parliament, and a further £6 billion pledged between 2025 and 2028.
Speakers at the roundtable agreed, detailing that it’s not for the industry to sit back and wait for the funding to land. Proactivity is needed, showing what the solutions are for the unique problems being faced – and demonstrate that they are possible to deliver.
Derek added: “The topic of the conference focuses on achieving net zero as a whole, so the programme featured a lot of engaging sessions focusing on what is needed and happening in spaces outside of the decarbonisation industry. With a national approach needed to all building stock, it was a good opportunity to hear what is happening with the likes of hotels
and emergency services estates – and to see both the different and similar challenges we are facing.
“It’s clear that a key for any sector seeking to meet its goals, skills and training remains a big barrier in terms of both attracting new people and providing the critical upskilling for a green future. For us in the housing space, that means 200,000 more trained retrofitters by 2030, which will need a collective push to achieve, especially to help training providers facilitate the courses.
“Together, the NHDG and its member holds powerful potential, with the scale, resources, willingness and ability to invest. We are able to combine the efforts of members for maximum outputs – and there will be no reason that other sectors cannot benefit from this action either.”