Latest Public Sector News

07.04.20

Energy Efficient Homes - Housing Minister Christopher Pincher

Source: PSE Apr/May 20

 

The need for energy efficient homes

In 2019, the Government became the first major global economy to sign a commitment to net-zero emissions into law. And this year the United Kingdom is hosting the UN’s COP26, where the world will come together to jointly commit to action toward an economy that is both zero-carbon, and climate resilient.

We are at the centre of the world climate change stage, and are leading the charge to protect our environment.

Obviously, this is no walk in the park. But this Government’s commitments are broad and comprehensive, and decarbonising homes is central to our strategy.

New and existing homes account for 20 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United Kingdom; a massive contribution to our collective carbon footprint.

Every time we cook, light, heat an inefficient home, we are unnecessarily producing vast amounts of damaging emissions. To meet our ambitious carbon targets, this needs to drastically change.

Becoming energy efficient

Not only do energy inefficient homes enlarge our carbon footprint, they also have a distinctly negative effect on quality of life.

Lower efficiency means higher bills, which can cost the average household hundreds of pounds more a year and encourage fuel poverty. And they are not just costly for the occupier.

Energy inefficient homes also affect our health. According to the National Infrastructure Commission, health risks brought about by cold homes cost our public health service an estimated £1.36bn a year.

Energy efficient homes are warmer, cheaper to heat, more environmentally friendly and more liveable. The motivation for creating them is simple.

So whilst we are focused on making new homes energy efficient to provide generations with a green future, we must also fix on making the existing ones efficient too.

This is a big task. 80 per cent of homes that will exist in 2050 have already been built. Yet in 2018, 70 per cent of all homes had an Energy Performance Certificate rating (EPC) of D or below, and that is far too many.

All homes, new builds or old, need to be comfortable, economic, and good for the planet. So, the Government is investing over £6bn to improve the efficiency of existing homes, and is exploring how to halve the cost of retrofitting properties. We are also investing over £320m into helping heat homes with lower carbon alternatives, such as heat networks and heat pumps.

On top of this, landlords are now required to contribute up to £3,500 to improve insulation and heating for the coldest privately rented homes, and homes with EPC ratings of F or G will need to be upgraded by law.

These are all part of the Government’s plans to make buildings more sustainable and efficient, and are twinned with our commitments to building a greener future.

Inclusive design for adaptable homes

Retrofitting targets some of our least energy efficient homes, which is important to the levelling up agenda in the North and the Midlands. We are also ensuring new homes can meet the challenges of our future housing needs.

Sustainability is one of these key challenges, and I want to view sustainable building both in terms of climate change, and in terms of its social aspect.

The Government has committed to building a million new homes this Parliament, delivering 300,000 homes a year by 2025. These homes need to adapt to the changing needs and nature of our society. We want to build to last.

It is also important to remember that the over 65s are the fastest growing age group in our society, and thus we must ensure that homes are age-friendly.

Key pillars of age-friendly, inclusive design are easy access to outdoor space, strong public transport links, local community support and health services, accessibility and of course attractive and appropriate architectural design.

Much of this pertains to age-friendly design practice, ensuring that older people are not marginalised or isolated where they live. Even micro-environmental features, like seating to rest, dropped curb crossings, ramps and public facilities are often as important for age-friendly design as home-based features.

This style of inclusive building also has a hugely beneficial, intrinsic link to low carbon living. Local amenities that are a walkable distance, good public transport links and green spaces are all foundational aspects of green design.

Home of 2030

It is imperative that homes can adapt to our changing needs, be that benefiting an ageing society, or helping our mission to reduce carbon emissions.  

We want to encourage businesses, designers and manufacturers to come forward with brilliant ideas for low carbon, beautiful, age-friendly homes, and that is why I launched Home of 2030 earlier this March.

Home of 2030 is a design competition created to shape the next generation of new homes; homes fit for the future. And we will build out the winning designs on a real site.

The cross-Government initiative will help inform the development of Government policy, focusing on universal, realistic, commercial solutions to help improve our homes. Crucially, these ideas will be actionable over the next ten years.

This Government is delivering action on climate change, building homes, and levelling up housing standards across the country. Delivering a legacy to future generations; homes, places and communities that we can be proud of.

Homes of 2030 will help us to meet our future housing needs and usher in a new culture of building. Age-friendly and inclusive, environmental, innovative, healthy and scalable.

Building homes people aspire to live in - as the norm not the exception – and homes that will stand the test of time in both form and function. That is our mission. That is what we will deliver.

 

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