What Do Committed ‘Climate Emergency Councils’ Mean for UK Housing?

Published on 27th April 2021
Could climate emergency councils help make housing more energy efficient

Climate change and cutting carbon emissions is now hot on everyone’s agenda and rightly so. Usually, a slew of phrases such as ‘going green’, ‘reducing our carbon footprint’, and ‘carbon neutral’ are banded around by key authorities and organisations, with no real substance behind them. But with climate change being so high-profile in the public consciousness, the government and local authorities have no choice but to take action.

Last week the UK government pledged to reduced emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels. The pledge can’t just be empty words, for the UK government will surely be held accountable by their citizens (and indeed the rest of the world), to fulfil their promise to meet the world’s most ambitious climate change target, which will be enshrined in law by the end of June 2021.

300 Climate Emergency Councils

At more regional and local levels, the country’s towns and cities will also be holding the 300 ‘Climate Emergency Councils’ to account – the District, County, Unitary, and Metropolitan Councils that have declared a Climate Emergency. Carbon Copy has released an interactive map showing which local authorities have declared a climate emergency, along with links to carbon emission stats for each local authority area and their plans and strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

How Can Britain Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions?

Britain’s housing stock accounts for 18% of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions, with Planning, BIM and Construction (PBC) Today increasing the figure, reporting that Britain’s 28 million homes contribute 20% of the country’s carbon emissions. As Public Sector Plc states: “Replacing Britain’s old, cold housing stock would play a big role in denting the 18% of carbon emissions generated by housing.”

Low Carbon Homes: A Multifaceted Solution?

Public Sector Plc commissioned a white paper in partnership with County Councils Network (CCN) outlining how the creation of a new generation of low carbon homes can help local authorities overcome many issues.

CCN spokesperson for the Environment and Communities, Councillor Sam Corcoran, noted in the report: “Low carbon housing is one solution that would help us to reduce emissions in our areas, which in return provides benefits for residents such as dramatically reduced fuel bills.

“As many of our authorities look at innovative ways to enhance our financial resilience, investing in low carbon housing using our own land could also help to provide an income stream whilst providing homes for rent that are of a high quality and meet a local need.”

Councillor Philip Atkins, CCN spokesperson for Housing, Planning & Infrastructure added that: “Low carbon housing could be part of both a solution to the housing affordability crisis, and the climate change emergency. Using our own land and taking control of the development could help to provide the right types of homes for our residents in the right place.”

sustainable building

The National Effort

One much-publicised scheme to boost the energy efficiency of the nation’s homes was the Green Homes Grant, which offered homeowners subsidies and grants for implementing measures that would cut their energy bills and consumption. However, the government scrapped the scheme last month with The Construction Index observing “With a lack of accredited installers and the small print stopping grants for many works, the Green Homes Grant scheme never took off.”

With the Green Homes Grant scheme originally intended to deliver £2billion of home improvements in the six months leading up to March 2021, it’s understandable that Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) reckons a replacement is needed – fast. “…the building industry needs a National Retrofit Strategy to have the confidence it needs to invest in greening our homes. Our homes use 35% of the UK’s total energy usage and emit 20% of carbon dioxide emissions. Net Zero will only be possible with a long-term plan to green our homes.”

He adds that, in the absence of the Green Homes Grant Scheme, it’s essential that the forthcoming Heat and Building Strategy is ambitious, long term, and comprehensive in its plan to upgrade the country’s housing stock.

The Environmental Audit Committee is also looking forward to the Heat and Building Strategy where they hope provisions will be made for a multi-year energy efficient programme in the next Spending Review.

Heat and Buildings Strategy

A Heat and Building Strategy is due to be published in early 2021 that will set out immediate actions that the government will take for reducing emissions from buildings, including deploying energy-efficient measures and transitioning to low-carbon heating. Energy & Climate outlined what can be expected from the Heat and Building Strategy – which they claim should be a route to emission-free housing. Things to look out for include ending the sale of fossil fuel boilers, which is crucial to hitting net zero, and the possibility of hydrogen playing a role in contributing to regional decarbonised heat.

While the government has a lot to deliver, especially with COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, being held in Glasgow in November and wanting to position the country as a world-leader in the battle against climate change, the dedicated climate emergency councils have a vital role to play too.

Solutions Lie at a Local Level

As Public Sector Plc highlights, climate change may be a global problem, but the solution is local: “As well as helping to tackle climate change we believe creating a new generation of low carbon homes creates win-win for local authorities, taxpayers and for local residents.”

Avonside Renewables and Together Housing’s Solar PV & Storage Pilot Project

Avonside Group is committed to using our network of 48 branches to help local authorities, including climate emergency councils, build more energy-efficient homes. To this end, we have enjoyed a number of meetings with Housing Associations to look at Carbon Zero Transition schemes.

Our Energy division is fully accredited with CHAS, SMAS and CQMS and supported by our own Health & Safety management team, enabling them successfully deliver on all energy-saving insulation requirements, providing quality-assured Loft, Cavity Wall, and Timber Frame Insulation.

Meanwhile, as Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) certified and GDGC accredited installers, our Renewables division enables greener living through the installation of a range of solar PV systems, including on-roof and in-roof systems and solar tiles, and battery storage.

If you’d like to find out more, please don’t hesitate to contact our Business Development Director Phillip Bull at: Phillip.Bull@avonsidegroup.co.uk