As we maintain our commitment to achieving net zero goals and the policies to achieve them, our chair Derek Horrocks emphasises the crucial role of collaboration between industry and government.
Undoubtedly, climate change is the largest threat of our time. However, unlike others, it’s also one that affects us indiscriminately. The burden of enacting change is equally shared among all of us because we are all impacted and share one planet.
Likewise, with the lofty and ambitious net zero goals, it’s also undoubtable that collaboration is key, particularly when we need to decarbonise homes at a really fast pace to meet targets. To drive the best policy forward, industry leaders like the NDHG and policy makers need to help one another understand how to unlock the full potential of retrofit decarbonisation.
Without question, the time for decisive action is now. We’re continuously seeing the effects of the ongoing energy price crisis, and – especially when combined with the current cost-of-living crisis – the need to reduce the cost of consumer bills has become vitally important in reducing fuel poverty, improving health, wellbeing, and overall living standards.
Moreover, it’s not enough to sweep what we have under the rug and only improve our energy efficiency measures on new builds as we move forward. A significant portion of the battle is raising the energy values of the UK’s current housing stock and to meet our net zero targets. With millions of homes across the country in need of upgrades, the rate at which we need to be applying retrofit decarbonisation measures to properties is high.
A deliberate approach is essential. In September of this year, our Prime Minister Rishi Sunak delivered a speech on meeting net zero targets, which included discussion on the effectiveness of heat pumps. However, while efficient heat pumps offer significant benefits, it is essential to prioritise a ‘fabric first’ approach before installing low carbon heating systems to ensure heat is retained.
This whole house approach is essential, beginning with insulation and only thinking about efficient heat gains once we are sure it can be sufficiently retained to make sure properties do not become energy sieves.
Similarly, the uncertainty the government has shown around which technologies it will support for the decarbonisation of housing is also starting to create cracks in investor and consumer confidence alike.
To avoid this, the government needs to focus on the substantial results that initiatives such as the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF) waves have already achieved. Our members have successfully implemented the changes that make a real difference, putting us as a collective at the forefront of the housing sector decarbonisation space.
The payoff from the long-term commitment to the SHDF has shown investors, consumers, and policy makers that retrofit decarbonisation works has a tangible effect on avoiding the negative impacts of excessively cold homes and excessively warm homes as temperatures increase thanks to climate change.
As a result, these projects are effectively reducing energy usage, alleviating the burden of high energy bills, and enhancing standards of living for tenants and residents.
While there are many voices singing the same tune, we’re still on the route to a harmonious directive, and the responsibility needs to be felt widespread to create the change that is possible – improving lives in the short-term and safeguarding the planet’s future in the long-term.
The policy landscape requires long-term commitment to net zero policies, including long-term funding for energy efficiency retrofit schemes. The NHDG is determined and excited to work together with the government to help achieve this, driving forward with the all-important whole house approach to housing retrofit, beginning with insulation and fabric first measures.