The Government has declared a ‘climate change emergency’ and has promised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.
What does net zero mean? In order to achieve net zero we need to pollute less and rethink how we use our natural resources and land. We need to live greener and more sustainable lives, and the property industry has an important role to play.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in 2018 housing contributed to 18% of the total UK emissions, which equates to 65.9m tonnes of CO2 per year. Additionally, 70% of homes are poorly insulated with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of D or worse.
Traditional methods of construction are incredibly carbon intensive with each new home ‘costing’ more than 50 tonnes of carbon to build. With bricks and concrete being major contributors, and steel the worse.
The Energy Performance Directive which comes into effect in 2021 sets out a nearly-zero energy standard. However, currently most new builds in the UK do not meet this standard.
So what can the property industry do to help?
Firstly, the industry needs to understand the impact of inaction on climate change and communicate this message to buyers. There needs to be a two-pronged attack with new build homes and apartments being as eco-friendly as possible. Modern methods of construction have to play a part in this. The 29 million existing homes across the UK need to be retro fitted to make then as low carbon and as energy efficient as possible. Small changes such as loft insulation, low energy lighting and water saving devices would all make a positive impact if changes are made in large scale.
The majority of buildings, not just houses, but offices and retail units are heating and cooled using fossil fuels. These need to be retrofited with more energy efficient solutions.
Housing policy is moving in the right direction with the announcement of no new gas connections to the national grid after 2025, however this is yet to be enacted.
With Election promises of large-scale tree planting by all parties’ consideration should be given to the landscaping in the built environment. With promises of somewhere between 30 million and 100 million trees to plant a year we can all play a part in contributing to this total by incorporating trees and wildlife friendly planting into all BTR schemes.
Small changes can make a big difference and Prsim can help you reduce carbon emissions on your existing portfolio by reviewing EPC’s, recommending works to improve the energy rating. On a new build portfolio Prsim can work with the design team and make recommendations for how to build a low carbon and eco-friendly scheme.