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Tue, 26 January 2021

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Why buildings must be the linchpin of the UK’s climate and green recovery plans

Why buildings must be the linchpin of the UK’s climate and green recovery plans

Credit: PA Images

ROCKWOOL

4 min read Partner content

When the Chancellor stands up today to deliver his spending review, he should double down on his ambitions for the built environment.

Last week the Prime Minister announced his Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, the first steps towards tackling two of the biggest challenges facing the UK today; how to decarbonise our lives to reach our net zero targets by 2050, and how to create jobs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under this announcement, the Government did the right thing in extending the life of the Green Homes Grant scheme that was launched earlier this autumn.

In the UK, 30% of all energy use and around 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions result from energy usage in homes. In order for Government to reach its net zero targets, making our homes more energy efficient is vital – 80% of the UK’s existing building stock is likely to remain in place in 2050, so to make significant progress we must tackle these buildings.

And, looking to the future, low carbon heating will be less effective and will have less of an impact on bringing down utility bills without energy efficient homes.

It is good to see this recognised by Government through the creation and extension of the Green Homes Grant, particularly in the current context when so many of us are spending more time than ever in our homes.

But we need to build on what has been achieved and push further and faster.

The truth is that the Green Homes Grant, welcome as it is, does not go far enough to meet the Government’s environmental targets or its objectives in terms of new jobs and boosting growth.

In order to tackle the issue of energy inefficient homes and buildings we need to go further – as the Conservative Party’s manifesto in 2019 promised we would.

That’s why when the Chancellor stands up today to deliver his spending review, he should double down on his ambitions for the built environment.

That means folding the Green Homes Grant into a substantial and overarching strategy to ensure that all the buildings we use are maximising their efficiencies and minimising waste.

Last year the Conservative manifesto promised £9.2 billion to achieve just that – now we need to see the detail.

Setting out a coordinated and long-term plan matters too.

Businesses need to see a clear and lasting pipeline of work to invest meaningfully in capacity and training, and this investment is vital to delivering the jobs and carbon reductions we need.

Analysis suggests that a longer-term energy efficiency strategy has the potential to support 150,000 green jobs, whilst at the same time reducing annual energy bills by as much as £440 per household by 2030. And those jobs would be located in every part of the country, doing more for job creation in the regions that need it most.

In the midst of this pandemic there are not many policy choices that are genuinely win, win. This is.

As we seek to build back better from the COVID pandemic, we have the chance to right that wrong and set the course for a sustainable built environment, fit for the twenty-first century and beyond.

As members of the Energy Efficiency Infrastructure Group, ROCKWOOL was pleased to contribute to and back a major new report that sets out an energy efficiency strategy to deliver on Government’s ambitions.

We are calling on the Chancellor to build on the funding announced in the summer and set out how he plans to allocate the remainder of the promised £9.2 billion to home energy efficiency investment.

This would give industry the certainty and confidence that it needs to hire and to train new recruits. And it would lay out a clear plan for delivering the efficiencies we need to see if we are going to reach net zero.

Combined with the existing Green Homes Grant, this investment would see the Government keep its manifesto promises whilst unlocking jobs and saving households around the country money on their bills.

The Government has set off on the right path, but if we are to really capitalise on the progress that the Green Homes Grant scheme represents, we need a clear strategy for the long-term.

Stop-start policymaking has been one of the biggest setbacks for energy efficiency.

As we seek to build back better from the COVID pandemic, we have the chance to right that wrong and set the course for a sustainable built environment, fit for the twenty-first century and beyond.

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