Housing

No other investment can match the range of benefits of making our homes greener

By 01/12/2020No Comments

Wins three and four – new jobs and economic growth

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, we are in the throes of an historic economic downturn.

The government estimates that this Green Revolution will create 250,000 jobs. Indeed, large-scale investment in energy-efficient retrofits of our homes could create tens of thousands of new jobs, apprenticeships for young people struggling to find work and older people keen to retrain, a new industry providing goods and services, and a huge opportunity for innovation, new technologies and new answers to existing problems.

“Don’t believe those who tell you it can’t be done. It can. We have the technologies, many of which are cheap and getting cheaper”

New jobs put money in our pockets, give people new skills and the confidence and sense of self-worth that goes with having a worthwhile, rewarding job. That’s win three.

The increased economic activity and bigger tax take is good for both local and national economic growth, as well as development at a potentially significant scale worth many billions of pounds. That’s win four.

Win five – cutting carbon emissions

The Committee on Climate Change estimates that around 25% of all carbon emissions comes from heating our homes. We could, in theory, reduce that to zero. Indeed, there are technologies that can ensure our homes are net energy contributors.

We may not be able to reach that for all our existing homes but we can move a large way towards it, thus hugely reducing carbon emissions and helping us as a nation deliver on our international obligations to reach net zero. That’s a huge win.

Win six – avoiding catastrophic climate change

If we deliver the first five wins, all of which are achievable, we help to protect the whole planet from future catastrophic climate change. For the planet, that’s the biggest win of all.

Don’t believe those who tell you it can’t be done. It can. We have the technologies, many of which are cheap and getting cheaper. It doesn’t all have to be government-funded, as the cost of the retrofit can – at least in part – be reclaimed over time in reduced energy consumption bills.

“Energy-efficient retrofitting has the potential to stop unnecessary deaths, help our household finances, give people great new jobs, boost economic output, reduce carbon emissions and save our planet”

Energy-efficient retrofitting has the potential to stop unnecessary deaths, help our household finances, give people great new jobs, boost economic output, reduce carbon emissions and save our planet. It is achievable and cost-effective. No other investment can deliver this range of benefits to each of us individually and to the whole planet collectively.

The government’s Green Home Grant has great potential, but it must be delivered successfully. This means that the process must be simple for those wishing to apply for a grant and enough tradespeople signed up to fulfil the work in the desired timeframe. And it has to last long enough to make a difference.

Greening our homes has to be a long-term strategy, not just a short-term initiative. That really would be part of a Green Revolution.

David Orr, chair, The Good Home Inquiry; former associate director for homes, Centre for Ageing Better; former chief executive National Housing Federation

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