The UK’s 30 million homes account for more than 21% of the country’s total carbon emissions, and so addressing the existing housing stock is clearly absolutely crucial if the UK is going to meet its net zero commitments.
Reports suggest that when it comes to housing, all homes will need to have a minimum EPC rating of C or above if targets are to be met. BEIS believes this could cost £1bn a year if that benchmark is to be hit by 2035.
Of those 30 million homes, there are approximately four million social housing units - that is the kind of scale and pipeline that can really drive innovation and change.
For example, it will be interesting to follow the outcome of Equans' recent 'win', a test project to retrofit 300 homes in Birmingham. If this project delivers results, it could pave the way to improving Birmingham Council's 60,000 properties (and up to 165,000 across the broader Three Cities region). and provide an example for other local authorities to follow - ultimately making a huge contribution towards those net zero goals.
Birmingham Council should be applauded for taking this step, but projects like this need to scale up, and fast - according to BEIS, the current rate of renovation in the UK needs to increase by around 7 times to meet the 2030 target (interestingly, this breaks down as a factor of 9 in England and a factor of 2.5 in Scotland).
The 300 properties are in East Birmingham and will be used to pilot approaches to improve thermal efficiency, reduce carbon emissions and provide energy savings for tenants. The project will also be used to address fuel poverty in an affordable and achievable way, by developing and implementing innovative solutions and funding models which can be used to scale up whole house retrofit across the city. The pilot scheme forms part of the 3 Cities Retrofit programme – one of the largest retrofit initiatives in the UK which could cover nearly 165,000 social homes across Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton.